Archive for the ‘spiders’ Category

Inspection of Hive #2

September 22, 2007

I realized while I was uploading the pictures for this post, its been 3 weeks since I posted last. I also hadn’t checked on the bees in that length of time too. When I went out to check on them though, they seem just fine.

The first thing to notice was that there were a whole lot fewer bees on the front of the hive. There were still plenty at the entrance, and a good number coming and going. This isn’t to much of a surprise though since it has finally cooled down a bit. I believe that today is supposed to be in the low 90’s, but this last week had been in the upper 70’s and low 80’s. The nights have also been down into the 60’s which feels much better (it had been very hot). Even better, we got a bit of rain. Not nearly enough to refill the reservoirs, but every little bit helps.

Its been 3 weeks since I had checked on the bees, so I hadn’t given them any sugar syrup in at least that long either. I can’t remember exactly, but I don’t think I did the last time I went either, meaning its been over a month. In any case, I haven’t ever given them as much as they would take. When I make sugar syrup, I use 6 cups of sugar and 6 cups of water (it make a little over 2 quarts). Split between two hives, that amount never lasts even a week. I had been hoping that there would be at least a small fall flow for them to build up stores. I figured they needed some feed though because back in mid July they had essentially no stored honey. As I check hive #2 however, I was pleasantly surprised to find some capped honey. They also had a good bit of uncapped nectar also. Since I haven’t fed them in a while, it appears that they have found something to collect. 🙂 The few small recent rains may have helped.

Since I was not sure how they were doing I had made up some sugar syrup before going out so they got fed too. Though there were fewer bees on the front of the hive, the population in the hives seemed fine (I think it was just the cooler weather). I pulled a number of combs to check, and saw some stores along with a small mount of capped brood and larva. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of brood as they wouldn’t want to be building up now, but its nice to see some at least. I also ran into the queen, and she seemed fine. I saw a couple of small hive beetles, but not many (no sign of damage). I still haven’t seen signs of varroa problems yet either. Over all, the hive seems healthy though still a little short on stores. I keep an eye on that going forward.

On the “not a bee but still a bug”, here is a gratuitous spider picture. My wife actually saw this guy on some crape myrtle near our house while we were on a evening walk with our daughters. I checked the next morning if it was still there and was able to get a few pictures. It’s a nice green color that blended well with the seed pods/fruit and leaves.

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Other bugs around the hives

August 26, 2007

I mentioned previously finding a rather large spider under the roof of one of my hives. Its not uncommon to find spirders, just that that one was pretty big and unusual. Normally, I see a couple spiders, but they are almost always the same type. I decided to try and take a picture of them (sorry, the focus is not always great – I need a camera with a macro setting).

The spiders range in size. Most interesting is they way they crouch in corners. They crouch with their legs together in sets of two (the first picture). I’m not sure my picture does it justice, but they always remind me of a cricket more than a spider when they are crouched like that. They will just stay like that unless I get them to move with a twig. I always let them go on the ground a little way from the hives, but there are always more when I come back the next time.

I also had a run in with a butterfly while checking a hive. It landed on the hive, then happily climbed on my finger and hung out for a little while. There are lots of butterflies around because the owner of the land where I keep the hives has a wonderful variety of flowering plants (including butterfly bush).

I most commonly see two types of butterflies. One is the type pictured above. I decided to try to take some pictures of the other main type I see too.

If anyone know anything about any of these (spiders or butterflies), I’d be interested in it.

Bees and Spiders

August 12, 2007

I went to check on my hives, but forgot an important tool … my camera.  I hate it when I see interesting things and have forgotten it.  You have to make due with an old picture and some links.  Sorry.

I didn’t end up doing much with them, mostly just giving them some sugar syrup.  Its been really hot and dry here in NC lately.  On Fri. it hit 104 and had been above 100 for a few days prior to that.  Its funny when you are happy that its “cooler” at only 93 or so.

I am pretty sure there isn’t much in the way of nectar to collect and my hives don’t have any stores to speak of, hence the sugar syrup.  When I checked today, both seemed ok though.  There are plenty of bees, but also plenty of empty comb.  They have clearly slowed their brood raising.  I didn’t check more than 2 combs however.  I think I will try to check back during the week, to see how fast they are using up the sugar syrup.

My one surprise came when I removes the roof on hive #1.  I always do this from the back, lifting up the back edge with one hand and sticking the other inside to grab the ridge pole as far forward as I can.  After I had done this and set the roof down, I found a rather large spider curled up in a corner, not far from where I put my hand.  I really wish I had my camera. 😦

I looked on the web, and the closest looking pictures I can find are of the genus AraneusIt was a mottled brown color that blended perfectly with fallen leaves (which is where I ended up putting it).  The distinctive part was the size of its abdomen.  It was bigger than all the rest of the body, probably about 3/4″ in diameter.  It had backed into a corner and kind of hidden itself under it abdomen.  The closest looking species I have seen on the web is a Araneus marmoreus, or Marbled Orb Weaver (they seem to come in a variety of colors).  Here is another picture I found that shown one hiding under its abdomen like mine was.  I’m not sure it was a Marbled Orb Weaver, but that was the closest looking thing I found.  Mine definitely hadn’t made a classic orb web, as it was hidden under the roof of the hive.

I’m not overlay frightened of spiders and an usually either leave then alone or simply move them.  My wife, who really doesn’t like bugs, find this a little annoying about me.  She would much rather I just kill the ones I find in the house (and quickly).  Here is a picture of a nice wolf spider I removes from our house (maybe 1-1.5″?).  I do remember it ran fast. 🙂

The only other impressive spider we have had around our house was a Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia).  It was quite large, and stayed for about a week on our back porch.  It had a 2-3′ orb web.  My wife got mad at me when I tossed large grass hoppers into its web (she thought I was crazy to feed it).  It left peacefully of its own accord though.

Of all the spider pictures I’ve seen, one I found on Flicker is the most impressive(here is the setup used to take the picture).  I am amazed by the extent of that macro!

Anyway,  even though I find spiders fascinating and often catch them to move out of our way, I am less than happy about sticking my arm up to the shoulder into a dark space I can’t see into.  I’ll take a bee sting any day over a spider bite.  After finding the spider in hive #1, I put on my beekeeping gloves to take the roof off of hive #2. 🙂