Friday was suppose to be good.. comfortable.. it was sunny, clear, I could see the crisp skyline of Oakland and The City. The Golden Gate Bridge posed perfectly as the framing to the Pacific. I was computing, seriously computing. Sitting on the deck, legs up, shades on, computing furiously getting THIS site back into working order and Nelly Furtado was playing on my stereo – that’s when you know things are going well, “Hey Man” is going full speed and nothing can stop you. It was Friday and I didn’t even know. Until it all stopped.

I suppose I didn’t expect it to occur as it did, which is why I felt so supprised. Like a pre-teen, who didn’t know any better, took the car for a spin and was waving as they rolled by the house. Here I was, three stories away and my ladies just come rolling by. “Heeey-yaaa Jooohnnnn.” … “Heeeey-yaa. Check us ouuuuttt.” And then around the block again. Except, “NO.”

Basically, my ladies swarmed about a week after a very scientific and methodical split took place, so no, they were not allowed their driving privlidges. But they took them anyway.. .. youth.

So after a few phone calls to requisite beekeeping partners, I posted to the Yahoo group, recieved a generous amount of insight and suggestion and help and did as any reasonable ACBA member would do and ‘took care of it.” But rather than articulate that in more broken sentences with “quotations” and vernacular one-offs – I figure I’d try my hand at the 5-minute swarm capture film. – so, enjoy.

Thanks to those who called me and walked me through the process on my frist swarm catch, Victoria, Kevin, Bob, and Much thanks to Patrick Connally and his partner for driving up and helping us out with this negotiaton, really, couldn’t have done it without you two.

Enjoy the video (YouTube) or (johnmizell.com – coming soon)

Springtime Bees

Springtime means lots of activity at the hive, or some I’m told.

As this is our First spring time with our bees, I’m still quite eager to watch what happens with the colony, how things change, and what I might do to make the bees, well, happier. I often consider the answer to the last question is to leave them alone, not mess with their hive or take their honey, but that’s not good enough for me.. I want to Engineer them.. in that wholesome organic natural happy way.. HA!

Today’s hive evaluation was two weeks and two days since I last opened the hive and I expected much to have changed. I had added a second deep two weeks ago and had fiddled with the frames a bit, moving one brood frame up and replacing it with an empty, undrawn frame (all plastic). Today, I found what I imagine ALL beekeepers find when sorting through the boxes. Manic Depression. :)

The Manic:

  1. The hive is growING! The size of the hive has increased significantly and according to the amount of brood on the frames will continue to do so.
  2. I’ve got a great number of drones walking around and activity within the hive is high, with bees on every frame.
  3. They’re making honey, lots of it, even after all those rainy cold days. They’re going to survive!

The Depressive:

  1. They’re building comb perpendicular to the foundation. Pulling out a few frames, I’m finding they’re not building comb along the foundation, like they have in the past, but out, off the foundation. Perpendicular to the rest of the hive orientation. As the comb grows in size it covers more of the foundation, but I did not get the impression they wanted it to. with nooks and crannies all over the bulging comb, it’s become quite the maze for the colony and a significant change from the ordered one, two, ten of the parallel frames. But, it seems there is not much I can do aside from buying wax foundation, which I’m reluctant to do. Though I’m considering empty frames – no foundation… hmmm
  2. They’re building brood between upper and lower deep. Golf ball sized collections of brood have cropped up along the bottom of the upper deep and, obviously, the top of the lower deep. Each group has four to twelve cells in it and after pulling frames out today, I found that any activity in the hive decimates these cells and their contents, very little of which was honey or pollen. Sadly.
  3. They’ve got mites. I’ve seen a couple of mites in the past. One here on the ground, another at the entrance, and once on a bee that I couldn’t track down fast enough to confirm. However, yesterday I snagged one bee with it’s red-headed guest, got a photo of it and confirmed my fears. Now to treat or to leave be?

While these things are a bit daunting, I’m still excited to see how the colony changes throughout the year as I become more aware of the activities of bees.. a strange and fascinating little insect.

ACBA Observation Hive Cleaning Party

This 10 minute video features ACBA club members cleaning the club’s observation hive on monday morning. The hive is situated inside with an opening through the wall to the outside. Inside the hive there sit 4 vertical frames sandwiched by plexi-glass. It’s quite an interesting set-up. As the video shows, a more regular cleaning is important to keep the bees happy.

*Special Notes on the film: The hive should be carried outside in order to limit bees escaping into the building. Future taping within the building ‘needs to be ‘okayed’ by the city.’

Enjoy the video.

DRAFT VIEWING Version 1.2: Early Viewing of “Cleaning the observation hive,” draft v1.2 (2011-01-25) in HD.