Saturday, September 21, 2013

So, most of yesterday I was building a 4'x12' shield to put in front of my bees when the mower guys come. They have not learned that when I tell them to not go in the direction where the mower throws grass into the bee hive it makes the bees upset. All three of the different ones who have mowed have been afraid of bees so one would think they would listen. Wellsir, even after I grabbed the mower a couple of weeks ago and did two passes the correct way it still did not register. That mowing man was amazed but the next week he went the wrong way throwing grass into the bees and getting them all riled up.
I put up a large sheet, (10'x4' x 1") of plywood but it is way too heavy for me to manipulate so I started building a much lighter weight one made of much thinner plywood. I had just cut the new one into two 6' sections that I can put up and take down with relative ease when Herself opened the garage door and said, "I think your bees are swarming." After figuritively placing the paddles on my chest and getting my heart re-started, I rushed to the window overlooking our estate, or some would call it, our back yard.
Sure enough, a small amount of bees had gathered on a bird feeder and were preparing to find a new home. Forgetting everything that was happening I luckily found enough frames with old wax and a couple with new wax and set up a hive body. At this time of year and that small amount the bees would not have had a chance of surviving the winter. I had planned on getting them settled and sometime in the next few days I would combine them with an existing hive.
So, I did get them into the box (hive body) and they seemed to accept it as they started working - or so it seemed. That is when I went back into the house to observe them. I even had supper and was able to eat all of it but hardly ever took my eyes off the view of the yard so I could observe what the bees were or were not doing. All seemed well. Emphasis on "seemed."
 As I sat eating at the dining  table whilst constantly looking out the windows, thinking how lucky I was to have caught them, a new small swarm started forming on the humming bird feeder which was next to where the finch feeder was the others had used. I said something like, "Oh, golly, gee" and didn't even cry. Or not so much as to be noticed, anyway.
Patiently I waited until it appeared all who were coming had a chance to gather there. I had a small frame with way so I poured a little sugar water on it and sprinkled sugar on both sides hoping to attract these delinquent little buggers.Not so much.
After it appeared there would be no others joining them I took the feeder, with bees hanging on, over to the hive body with the others. I left them for an hour or so. Later I went back and combined the two and had no problem. I wondered if they could have been two parts of the same swarm and it appeared that was so. This was about an hour or more into the process and I had only started cleaning the garage when it all started.
I made an attempt at blowing the saw dust out and sorta straightening the rest of the mess and rushing so I could continue observing the bees. The last check I made of them was just about dark and everything appeared to be OK.
Early this morning they were gone.
(Insert wail and lamentations here.)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Do as I say, NOT...

Sometime in the far distant past, like about 2 months ago, a group of robbers ganged up on my number three hive and killed it completely. By the time I figured out what was happening and after a trip, it was too late.

Jump ahead to 3 or 4 days ago and I looked out and the same thing was happening at a stronger hive.  I called "Carl" and he told me what to do. I had already almost closed off the hive but he said to lock it down completely. Hmm, much easier said than done. The bees did not like my interfering with their life even though I was trying to save their lives and the life of the hive. Ungrateful little buggers.

He also said to turn the hive 180° . Yessir, that was nearly impossible and it nearly caused me to get stung several times. OK, so the bees came out in a mad scientist swarm and stung me so many times through my jeans and up my pants leg and on my ankle and a dozen or 20 other places that I had to retreat and get far away from them. Being in pain is not my idea of fun.

Part of that was my fault because the top hive body was so heavy I could hardly carry it and it slammed down causing the bees to let me know that I should not treat their hive in such a manner. After another try I got the bottom hive body turned and the second one on top again. I abandoned shutting the hive further until they calmed down as I just said, being in pain is not my idea of fun. I didn't mention it was 105° F when all this was happening. Bees are sorta like humans as they  also get irritable in the heat.

I got them closed up and there were many bees who did not get to get inside before the confinement. They were not happy and bees do not write letters to the editor, they take direct action. It was chancy going into the back yard for a while. Of course, the lawn mower man came and he is afraid of the bees on a normal day so he was very apprehensive when I told him what they were like today. I told him to just do what he was comfortable doing and he actually did everything. Same with the man who put on weed killer and fertilizer. He was stung three times but they did not bother him when he was moving. About dark O'clock I opened the top for the other bees to get in and go to bed  --  or whatever bees do at night.

Yesterday the other hive was being attacked so I closed it off and put a help message on the bee message board. Dane sent a "call me" message so I did. Later that evening we talked for about 45 minutes and I found I had actually done some things correctly. I haven't been very close to the hives today but I must go out and check them and get the one I closed, and then reopened, closed again. Then the west hive needs closing completely. I am having a very difficult time in getting the entrance reducers to stay in place. I am beginning to think the bees all get together and push in unison so the reduced board will fall out. I will sneak up on them and nail that sucker in place if I have to.

All three hives seem to be strong and full of bees. I hope to have enough bees to start my own nuc next spring. Dane thinks I can do all three early and one of them again in May. That would be nice.

We'll see - so stay tuned.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

After months of delay, I hope to keep up with this a little better.
Today - May 27, 2012, I fixed my newly acquired nuc into a permanent place. I brought them home yesterday from Carl's who kept them whilst I was in Australia. They have already outgrown the nuc status and are now a full hive. Their 10 frames were not completely grown out but that box was full! Now they can get busy filling out the rest and adding bees so they can get through the winter. But first, in Oklahoma we have the horrid summer to get through.
I do not know when I will get time to do all that is needed to get my "beezness" up where it should be. Some problems but not time for solutions yet.
We'll see how this week goes with cleaning the garage, moving 'stuff' back into the house and still trying to keep up with bees.
I had rather work with the bees.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wellsir, there are probably several easy to read reasons why, but I lost two hives in the last two-three weeks. The lawn service promised me that the poison they used wouldn't hurt my bees but something caused an immediate collapse of one and a lingering death of the other. It appears to me to be too coincidental.
I checked with an experienced beek and she told me to close them up the day ahead of the service and not open again until the next day. That seems risky during the summer but I cannot afford to lose another so i guess I will.
One hive make swarm while I am gone. I hope it is still in one piece as I plan on making a split with it. It may decide to make its own split.
I asked about a queen some guy put on the beek message board but it will probably be tomorrow before I hear back. I have asked Greg two years in a row for a queen but he either "forgets' or really does forget. In either case, I did not get a queen.
I hope to live for 50 more years as I want to learn enough about bees to actually raise them.
Ah well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Traveling Considerations

                                              Being Creative About Traveling

Getting ready for a trip always has some moments of decision. Getting ready for a long trip adds to the stress of deciding about  things to take. Getting ready for a very long trip to the opposite weather conditions adds may just add a great deal of stress. Yes, we are going back to Australia and it is approaching winter down there.
      Some of you will remember that I was in Broken Hill, Australia when Oklahoma was going through its record breaking heat. I sent back messages about shivering and the cold and I never received any responses that were kind and sympathetic. The only messages I received were more of a “shut-up!” mode and some hinted at ... well, we shall not go there.
      Yes, I knew it was winter there but Broken Hill is in the desert region and should not have been bone chilling cold. It should have been just medium cold. As you have guessed, I survived and learned a valuable lesson. Never trust the internet to provide useful information about weather - or politics. After about a week the weather turned Oklahoma proud and I could sit in the sun and enjoy my cuppa whilst reading a novel. We Aussies do that a lot.
      Now that the airlines know they can gouge you for almost everything, packing has become an art form. The weight of a bag has a great deal to do with your travel. Traveling internationally will allow one to carry on heavier pieces and to ship two pieces of luggage. In economy, the weight limit is 50 pounds. Now that sounds like a great deal but if you are doing international travel you may expect to take more than one change of clothes. Add in all the “stuff” the average woman needs for her up keeping and you can see the limit can be reached in a hurry.
      Sure, you are correct that you can take two bags internationally, but how would you plan on handling 100 pounds of luggage plus your carry on plus all the papers you need. I have been in air ports, uhh, excuse me, “terminals” in several different countries and almost all of them do not give a flip about your convenience. The terminal people are much more interested in having a good shopping area for you to pay 50% more to get hospital gift shop quality junk. The international terminal in Sydney is a case in point.
      After you arrive, you must go about eleventeen kilometers to get to the processing centre. Its official name is “customs” and you need to be able to follow the herd to find it. You should pick out someone who acts/looks as though they have been there before and try to keep up with them. Aussies do not do signage very well. Then there is the problem of getting to your next flight after you finally get through customs.  Sometimes you may have time to get you bag from the luggage place and still get through customs without having heart pounding stress trying to catch your next flight.
      “Ah,” you say, “but modern luggage is easy to handle. The pieces have those wheels that turn and allow you to go about anywhere.” My answer is, fifty pounds weighs fifty pounds no matter what container it is in. If all you had to do was pull it along, then that would be great. But do not expect a genii to appear at the counter and lift you bags onto the scales nor off the carousel when you claim it.. And do not think that all airline employees are from Canada and are friendly and courteous. Somewhere you will meet up with Hilda the Hun and she will do a number on you. You will learn to smile through the tears of frustration.
      Here in the USA we have surrendered most of our personal rights to the security laws. The people dressed in those uniforms can treat you in a manner that was totally inappropriate not too long ago. I have been patted down by more men than I ever thought would happen to me when I was growing up. I left a handkerchief in my pocket once and had a 10 minute investigation. One other time I must have moved during the Xray process as i got to go through the patting again. If I were of the proper mindset I might enjoy that but having a man run his hands up and down and patting me places is not my idea of a good way to start a vacation.
      Ah, but then we get to do it all over for the trip home

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

 Sunday (today) I finally got to fill the bee feeders in my three hives. I got all dressed out as if I were going to war. That almost happened. 
The East hive hardly noticed me at all but I think there may be a problem there. There were several dead bees at the entrance and I saw bee workers carrying out other bee bodies. Hopefully, this action was normal but I haven’t seen so many at once before. There may be somebody at the bee club meeting who can give me a clue. Out of the 150+ members who come to a meeting, 149 know more than me, or it feels that way. Wh
en the sun comes out and it is a nice morning, I shall open up and inspect the entire hive structure.

The West hive did their thing and let me know how unwelcome I was but once I go the feeder installed they pretty much left me alone. This, I think, is my weakest hive so they may have other issues on their mind. This hive has improved dramatically over the past few weeks as the weather has improved. 
Then I went back to the Corner hive and that hive appeared to be so over full they may be getting ready to swarm. I hope not, at least unless I am here and they stay in my yard. The boxes were so stuck together I had to use a crowbar to get them unstuck. This was not conducive to good relations with the denizens of said hive. They decided I was the enemy and acted accordingly. 

Now I must warn you, the scene I am about to describe is unusual and caused by mistakes on my part. Bees are only aggressive when they feel threatened. IF I could speak bee, after this was all over I certainly would have threatened them aggressively. But not this time.

The day was cloudy and overcast and had dark clouds moving in. I couldn't wait any longer as I was sure they have been without food for a few days. I also wanted to add a super so they would start making me some honey. That took way too long and I could not get the outer lid to fit. 
There were bees attacking from all directions, in my boots, inside my gloves and where ever else they could find or make a place to punish me. Swarms came flogging up and tried to get my face first, then the other areas. I could not find my real gloves nor the smoker before I began which is always a mistake. However, I didn’t think I could wait any longer so I decided to go for it. Things in the garage are so messed up I may not find my stuff for a long while. I shall never attempt anything with these girls without a smoker and proper gloves as I may have learned my lesson.
I was swatting and jumping and yelping and swatting and whacking my hands where the bees got inside my gloves and one even got way down in my boot. I had my pants inside my boots and had the pants legs tied with a long 'string.' That sure worked as only one bee got inside my pants. NO, I do not know how that was possible as I also had on a belt around my tee shirt UNDER my bee jacket which has a tight waist.
The bees followed me off so I went over to the East hive so they would know they were in enemy territory. Neither hive paid attention to the other hive. Finally they all gave up and went home. I made the mistake of going back to the Corner hive and trying to collect all my equipment. They said, "Are you serious? We got rid of you once and we can do it again." And here they came, only about twice as many this time and probably twice as aggressive.

I finally sat on the patio and swatted bee after bee. When the number got down to two I was ready to jump into the house and slam the door. Evidently they have better communications than people realize as the number of attackers increased to about seventy-five or so. 
Now I was just sitting there, I had left their hive in better shape than it was, I was no longer bothering them so why the aggression? I have it figured out. 

They are all females and they thought I had scorned them.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Today is Saturday, April 7 and it has been cool and rainy today. I did make a gallon and half of 1x1 sugar water to promote brood.  At least that is what I have been told.
Since it was raining and I had to get more done about moving back in from the garage, I did not attempt to refill their feeders.
Last week when I tried to put in a feeder I was attacked by a swarm of angry bees. The weather was cloudy and a storm front was moving in, I found out later. This hive is usually the nicest disposition hive so I never expected to be swarmed. Also, there was some doubt as to their survival.
Man, if that feeding episode is any indication, they are going to survive. But now i am just waiting on the sun to shine for a while so I can feed all three hives.
I truly hope the 1x1 feed really does promote brood growth.
Also, I need to get into the north hive as I think they may need a super and i do not have any supers ready.
Yep, this moving furniture to get new carpet has caused major delays in the bee business.
However, I have managed to read several books so that hasn't been a loss.