Archive for the ‘Ken’ Category

An update from Ken

August 4, 2008

Since then I have put the legs of the hive in bowls of oil, because I noticed a line of ants marching in and out of the hive.

That seems to work very well (stopping the ants), only drawback was it appears the bees either found the oil very interesting or something, there were quite a few drowned victims in the oil and sadly a few that tried to crawl out only to die in a “frozen” position on the legs. Next task is to put a screen over the oil in a manner that the bees are not able to fall into the oil, but the screen cannot be connected to the bowl so the ants do not have a bridge over the oil. Very complicated! I will take a picture when I have done it. Ants drive me nuts!

Anyway, on this visit, my goal was to have a look at the furthest back combs, the first ones they started near the follower board. I have never looked that far back in my previous inspections.

Here are some things that I noticed:

They are busy with propolis, but not nearly as much as I would have expected. I thought they might try to close up all kinds of gaps, but not the case. They were doing some inside near the roof line, but nothing out of the ordinary.

They are building new comb right on track. Last time I accidentally broke some comb that was sharing a bar, but the new comb is right on place without any coaxing on my part.

I did not use smoke this time, until I was closing it up. That seemed to be great. During the time I had the hive open, the bees were busy and a little disturbed that I was nosing around and brushing them, a few pinging off my veil, but I felt the situation was normal considering that I was all hands and cameras inside their home. THe only time I used smoke is when I was closing up the hive, putting the bars back and trying to push them together, the bees seemed to come up and congregate right in that space between the bars. I would try to brush them down, but they would just come back up to check me out. So I lit the smoker, gave them a puff, and sure enough, down they went, and I was able to push the bars back in place safely.

So attached is my photos of the two last (furthest back) bars. I was expecting (hoping!?) to see ripe honey stores, but not the case.

Things appeared very healthy and normal. I was much more calm and relaxed during this visit. I took my time and worked slowly and deliberately. I liked not using smoke. It seemed to distract me, and it seemed to annoy the bees. I did get one sting through my long sleeve tee-shirt. That is only my third since beginning.

One of these days I am going to slide out the bottom board and clean it. It seems dirty, and I should check for any “foul play”

Until next time,

kg

Advertisements

More about Ken’s Bees

May 24, 2008

Post by Ken  – 05/22/2008:

Well, After my first open hive check, I thought everything was going so well. And they were, for the bees, not so much for me!
I might have mentioned that they began building from the rear, starting from the follower board where the sugar syrup feeder poked through, and moving forward toward the front. They had comb on the last six bars, biggest in the rear.
On my first check, I was able to pull out all six bars and they had built comb right down the middle, no problem. These are the 1-1/2″ wide bars by the way.
Today when I opened it up, they had only progressed forward by one bar, on to the 1-3/8″ wide set.
Well, that was not so easy. They had attached comb to the bar behind it and put two on that 1-3/8″.
I had to cut through the comb on top just to get the bar out, and squished a few bees, popped open some honey or nectar and pollen stores, some eggs, larvae and who knows what else. What a mess! I felt terrible.
I took a picture and put it back in, and thought I would try to look at the progress of one of the back bars that started off well.
I guess I was losing confidence in my self because I was trying to pry the bars apart, would see wax, decide not to take it out, try to put it back together, trying to be careful not to squish anymore, working slowly, trying to get them to go back down inside with the brush, trying to push the bars back together, and close it all up. Ah. I just wanted to get out of there. I felt like I was just disturbing the whole thing.
This was the second time I used smoke, and boy, it does not seem to make them calm. I would give them just a little puff near the entrance, and wow, they would really fly out and hover around. When I was working inside, it seemed like the smoke really agitated them and made them busy and buzzy. They did not “keep their heads down”, quite the opposite, they came popping out of every crevice and seemed to not want to go back inside.
Not a good visit.
Although, when I put the smoke out and the roof back on, it seemed from the outside like nothing ever happened. Just a few coming and going while I cleaned up my workbench.
So If I listen to the bees, I wonder what they are telling me. I wonder if they do build different thickness of comb depending on their needs. How do I know what thickness of bar to use? When do they need or want it? I guess this is where years of experience comes in handy. I read somewhere that -anticipating- their needs is the beekeepers best tool.
Oh well.

Ken’s hives and new bees

May 23, 2008

Post by Ken – 05/07/2008:

I live in Los Angeles, and built two hives base on kawayanan’s plans.
They have been sitting in my garage for months, and my wife was tired of looking at them!
I was having trouble ordering bees from apiaries, hobbyists don’t seem to be at the top of their priority sales,
and the shipping from far away seemed to pose some logistical problems,
My wife opened the yellow pages, and said “Why don’t you call this guy- The Bee Man” so I did not thinking too much of it, left a message.
A day later he called, my wife answered and spoke with him. His business is bee removal- but then he sells them on the side to the growing interest in hobbyist like myself.
So I got on his list of interested parties, and a few days later (Saturday) he called and said he was in the area, and had a swarm.
We arranged to meet at a Starbucks parking lot, and gave me the bees for $45. He was a nice guy, we spoke at length, I described the hive that I (we) have, and he had never heard of a top bar hive and was a little/very skeptical. He understood and was interested in the more natural approach, but said I would not get nearly as much honey as a Langstroth and cross their comb…. But that’s not the point! For me its more about observing and interacting with these fascinating creatures.
Anyway, I got them home that evening, sprayed them with some sugar water, filled up the feeder and plopped them in the hive!
The next morning, they were busy! Locating themselves.
I have a window on the side of mine, it has been great to satisfy my curiosity. I wouldn’t know what to think they were doing with out it.
I have noticed that they broke up into three different clusters, toward the back of the hive near the feeder. Today, there were two clusters, one much bigger than the other. I will have to peer in again to see if they had started building comb. Maybe they had a dis agreement on who would be queen.
Since they are on the back on the follower board and last few bars, I don’t know how I am going to get that feeder out of there to fill up again. I have another feeder, so I will just put it out near the hive and hope the bees get more of it than the ants do.

The first is an overall shot of my garage (I was standing on my house
roof to take the picture), where I have built two fences blocking off
the hive area completely- safe from small or large children or curious
adults or animals.
Some pictures of the hive set up and operating,
Hive with roof removed before the bees were installed, showing the
movable follower board with the feeder. I ended up putting more bars in
when I installed the bees, and they all clustered around the back near
the feeder, and started building the comb from the last bar working
forward.
Some pictures of the new comb after seven days of their work. They have
made comb on seven bars so far, starting from the back to the front.
What may be of interest is that the larger bars are located in the back,
they are 1 1/2″ wide. The middle bars are 1 3/8″ wide and the front bars
are 1 1/4″ wide. I made them this size according to the “bee space”
between what I thought would be egg/brood raising up front,
pollen/nectar storage in the middle, and honey storage in the rear of
the hive. Apparently not the case! It should be interesting to see what
they do when they come to the smaller bars, and how they use them.
You can see in one of the photos taken through the side window how humid
it is inside the hive, with the moisture beading on the glass. The bars
which were so perfectly straight when I made them have twisted only
slightly.

A guest blogger

May 23, 2008

Well, I’ve been pretty busy lately. All the pesky things like jobs and such. 🙂 I haven’t even been able to go check on my bees for a few weeks. Hopefully I will be able to go some time over this long weekend…

In the mean time, I have something else to let you all know about. I have had a number of people contact me with some questions about my hive design. A couple have built their own version. I have invited them to send me any pictures and new they would like to add to the blog as a “guest blogger”. The first I would like to introduce is Ken who lives in Los Angeles. I’ll post his pictures and comments, and you can either reply here or email him if you would like.