Showing posts with label Leez Bz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leez Bz. Show all posts



Click on images to see them enlarged.

One of Leez Bz stopped to sip from a water droplet.
She is taking a very rare respite
from day-long marathon of foraging
for a few more morsels of nutrient in the fall forest foliage.

Break time is over.
Time to return to the fields searching for
remaining bits of pollen in the fall forest.


Fall Equinox tomorrow means it's time for the Ladies' annual pre-winter home inspection. 

First step is just to sit quietly at the hive entry for a few minutes to observe patterns.  Patterns of how many bees are coming and going to forage.  How much pollen they are returning with.  What color (plant type) is the pollen?  How much, what kind of noise the colony is making.  How many dead bees are strewn on the ground below the hive entrance, and whether it appears they may have died about the same time.  Examine stain streaks on the exterior hive body walls for signs of nosema (which can involve diarrhea).

Sometimes I'll place a stethoscope gently against the sides of the hive boxes to determine how tightly clustered they are, if at all, and if so, where.  That will help guide which frames to remove, or not, for examination when I open the hive in a few minutes.
Leez Bz
(two sidebar boxes are from unsuccessful colonies)

Opening the top of the hive to examine the "super" (the third, topmost box...the bees get to keep all the honey stores they put up for winter feeding, in the lower two boxes).  The super is about 1/3 full, since I used it to replace the prior super a few weeks ago.  If the colony looks healthy today I'll hope to harvest this honey soon.  If not, I'll leave it for winter backup panty, then take it in the spring when forest flowers bloom with pollen to make new honey.

Just a close-up view of the super box.  Not much action up here because it's early and crisply cool still this morning.

I performed only a cursory examination in order not to keep the hive open too long. The Ladies seemed to be doing well, so no need to get them all upset with a detailed exploratory exam.  I had prepared a 50/50 sugar/water mix, and cleaned this plastic hive-top feeder, ahead of time in case of deciding to install it.  I decided to install it.  Partly because the earlier entry-point observation revealed rather little pollen arriving on the bees' rear tibia (corbicula).

Aluminum (water proof) roof installed, with rock to avoid wind blowing off the roof.  Note the hive tools in lower left.  (One of them thinks it used to be a roof repair pry bar).

Well fed, plenty room to maneuver inside the hive, warm sun rays on a crisp fall day.  What more could we do to comfort these incredibly hard working Ladies?  



Five of my six honeybee colonies did not survive the winter.  But one colony did moderately well.  Not the banner harvest of 140 pounds from my first colony a few years ago.  
But, still, this one surviving colony survived the winter with about 40 pounds of honey to spare.  We waited until late July to make sure the queen was providing them plenty of new baby bees, and that they were well on their way to plenty honey to survive on next winter.  

So last weekend Lee'z B'z "volunteered" to donate their surplus inventory to my most deserving seniors real estate clients.  On top of that, last month I had confined a hive full of honey that a colony had abandoned in late spring after a great start (Colony Collapse Disorder?).  So we also harvested those surplus frames.

Looks like we'll get a couple dozen jars of Leez Bz honey this year.  And we'll will have a couple jars of honeycomb wax to make candles, lip balm, axle lubricant, ...



I just don't know, Grey Goose.
Never seen one of them before.
It looks human, but goose-sized.

Let's get out of here.  Those humans are releasing the BEES !

Wow!  How many bees you got, Lee?
One, two, three, four, ...

Which one?  This one?
No, I think I counted her.



After a weirdly warm winter, we're having a very early warm Spring season.  I started feeding The Ladies with sugar water, but it appears Mother Nature stocked the grocery shelves somewhere out in the forest.  See the food they are packing back home in their thigh-high grocery bags.

I find the last picture below to be the most interesting.  It appears to support the claim that hive-bound bees intercept incoming forager bees to transfer pollen, so the foragers can take off right away and get back to the grocery store.  What do you think?



Many of us in the bee club suffered through the summer with our new nucs of fledgling colonies doing very little to prepare for winter.  Every spring the hives are supposed to awaken at around 60 degrees, to start the 6-month rush to make enough honey to live on over the next winter.  That's the annual cycle.  Supposedly. 

My first colony two years ago went gangbusters from the start, with lots of excess honey in the fall to share with humans.  This year, my four colonies will be lucky to make it through the looming winter with enough honey.  They need that energy to beat wings all day, all night, every day, clustered around the queen to keep her at 92 degrees even when it's 20-below outside.  Good luck, Ms. Queen and all the attendants. 

Here is how they looked on September 18, 2011, over three months after receiving the shipment from a new supplier in Nebraska:

After 3 months, almost nothing to show.

Seem to be in no big hurry toward the white plastic frames.

But, they are avoiding these wood frames, too.
They seem to avoid the plastic frames, building upward to the feeder instead.
Bottom of feeder

Detail of feeder bottom


STOP! THIEF! I'm Bee-ing Robbed!

...or not.  Heard a great frenzy of in-flight bees surrounding the hives.  Thirty minutes later it was calm inside and outside the hives.  But, still, there were these large galutes coming and going, and not a one of them was seen to be bringing home pollen for the good of the colony.  Just don't know, are these drones?  Robbers?  Just big, lazy ladies?



The first part of this movie is playing at 1/2 speed.  Most of it is running at 1/3 speed.  Sure makes it easier to observe bee behaviors. 

Notice the arriving cargo bees with pollen packed on their legs.  Also, do you agree there is a non-random number of instances where an arriving bee head-butts a departing bee?  Notice starting at 21 seconds, a bee stumbles out of the house on to the front deck, rubs her face with her front feet as if to wake up, then takes off for the day.  In the last second, see on the right where an arriving bee and a bee just taken off collide.  This is a very busy airport.



Two new duplicate bee colonies, from the same source, were installed on the same day in early June, in identical hives only two feet apart.  One colony is building parallel planes of wax comb and filling it with well behaved little girls, surrounded by orderly and consistent honey.

But the other colony right next door is running amok, building curve-shaped comb in total disregard for the carefully constructed prepared frames inside their hive box.  This unruly, doing-it-my-way colony is building new babies, new comb and new honey faster than the fastidious, engineers next door.  

See?  This is what happens to a community when an engineer is not in charge of order, discipline, planning and design.

Speaking of engineers...notice on the photo at left how the bees are hanging in a chain.  And notice there is no guide telling them how to build comb straight down.  That chain of bees is believed by some, to be like a gravity-driven plumb-bob.  It tells the other bees what direction is down.  That's how the bees get panels of comb to be parallel to each other.   

Next class, we'll go over the hexagon (the shape of every single one of the cells) and why the mathematics of structural engineering confirms that the strongest/simplest structure is a triangle, and a hexagon is just six triangles formed to simulate a circle.  The beehive comb-cell, it turns out, is the mathematically optimized maximum structural strength from the minimum of construction materials.  (Hey, if you had to make 13,000 flights to flowers a mile away just to build one 1/4" comb-cell, you'd be focused on structural economization, too.)



 I designed and built two modified top bar hives.  Meanwhile, two colonies arrived via the mail.  

Too bad some things went awry.  First, when the bee supplier called to say they were behind on shipping, I said "fine," not knowing they already had the bees packed, but they just sat there in the Georgia warehouse.  When the bees arrived, their was no more food, the bees were badly stressed, and I am not sure one of the queens survived.  

Then, despite request the post office call me when the bees came in, I arrived home to discover the bees had been waiting all day without food.

So we rushed the hives out to the yard and installed the bees.  Same as last year's installation of a new colony...first move the queen's chamber to the new hive, then shake the livin daylights out of the bees in the inverted shipping box.  Oddly, I still did not get stung this year even though I shook and banged on their shipping box.

Let's hope these ladies thrive in their new forest home.

Lee's Bee's at www.Leez.Bz


Honey bees get a bad rap.  Most barefoot and front-porch stings are from those mean and nasty wasps.  Honey bees are fuzzy-cuddly folks.  They go out of their way to avoid conflicts.  

Honey bees are also beautiful, delicate, interesting, and extremely well-engineered.  See the long, flexible tongue-like proboscus on one lady, used for collecting nectar and pollen.  See the backward-facing toe claw on the front foot, and the opposing front-facing claw on the middle foot?  And there appears to be two claws on the real leg.  And those EYES!   All the better to find stuff with, I guess.  If you click on any of these photo's they show in much more detail.

Any how, enjoy the fuzzy little girls.  By the way, these models were from two colonies we installed just yesterday.  See the next post about that story.

Lee's Bee's at www.Leez.Bz



Opened the hive today for spring inspection.  Here is what we saw.  Notice the lady laden with ample pollen.



If the bees can start with last year's beeswax honeycomb, start warehousing honey first thing in the spring, then they are more likely to produce enough honey to make a sweet-toothed person cry.  But we chose the "crush and strain" method, where in we cut out the entire beeswax honeycomb along with the honey in the comb. We then crush and stir it in a food grade white 5-gallon bucket.  We then strain the honey, pour it in to Mason jars and seal.  The strained-out beeswax is used for candles, lip balm, car-door lubricant, etc.