All posts filed under: Bees

Bees

Bees are awake

Today the sun is shining and the bees are awake and flying about for the first time in weeks. I think they must like the new position of their hive. I moved the hive to a sunnier spot when it was freezing outside and they were hibernating. The general rule for moving hives is less than 2 feet or over 2 miles. That way the bees will be able to find the entrance and not go back to the old location. If this is done during summer months some of the worker bees who are out may get lost but the rest of the bees will adjust to the new location. The middle of winter is the other good time for a move. Now the hive is under my big cedar on the SW corner. They will get lots of sun in cooler months and morning and evening all summer long. The cedar will protect them from wind and shed some extra water. In the heat of summer it will provide shade. No wonder bees …

Grandmother Cottonwood

Cottonwood buds, the first harvest of the new year. I walked in the cold winter sun out to visit Grandmother Cottonwood. One tall, ancient one surrounded by millions of younger sprouts all interconnected and intertwined under the soft marshy ground of the Sandy River Delta. My fourth year of going forth and gathering the bounty dropped by these giants when they hold their wintry dances in the wild, blowing wind. Water and earth grow tall, hold the riverbank together and then coaxed by the wind throw off gifts for the people. And what sweet gifts they are laying like a pile of discarded antlers on my kitchen table. The resinous buds full of antibacterial and antimicrobial compounds the bark astringent aspirin like. Even the bees know to use this medicine, gathering copious amounts of it to be transformed into Propolis. The thick reddish goop they use to seal their hive against invaders of all sizes. Bacteria, mice, even the wind itself is pushed out. It was a strange sight this time to visit Cottonwood. Blackberry …

Fondant for bees

Made fondant for the bees. Fun stuff! Being sort of anti-sugar I’ve never made candy before. Getting to see the sugar bubble and change to different states was really cool. Ingredients: 1 cup water 1 pinch salt 4 cups white sugar 1 tsp white vinegar 1 drop lemongrass essential oil Here it is cooling in a heart shaped mold. I checked the bees yesterday and they are buzzing wildly in their hive. But it is so cold and the hive was a little lite. Extra food will insure the bees are strong through the rest of the winter. Once it warms up above 50 again I can feed sugar water.

Bee beard

Some folks like to keep their bees in boxes, others in logs, this one is in a bee beard made out of a hollow log. Check out thisĀ  fantastic and unique way to home bees. Bee beard in action. Thanks to Pat for reading my blackberry post and introducing me to his fabulous log hive. It was a great way to start my grey Portland morning. I just watched the chainsaw making of the hive on his blog. It was incredible to see the face evolve out of the bare wood. Now there is an inspiration for me as an artist and beekeeper. I am in awe of the grace with which a chainsaw can be handled. Read more of Pat’s blog on natural bee keeping http://www.solarbeez.com

My first (inadvertent) honey harvest

I harvested this honey today out of my brown hive. I didn’t really mean to do that, but it was clearly needed. I went to check out top bar hive at my house today. The bees have been really busy and I gave them 4 more bars to build comb on a few weeks ago. But when I looked though the window it seemed that the comb was crooked! Top bar bee keepers have warned me of this. Apparently once the bees start building their comb out of line it will just go on like that, eventually creating comb that spans two bars and then gets very messy to move. Well, it seems like I waited too long, as there were about six combs that bulged over at the top toward the next bar, one of them even attached to the next bar. So there I was with my hands in the hive and this mess unfolding before me. It seems like all the crossed over comb was filled with fresh nectar, so at least …

Bees need water too

My bees seem to be finding water somewhere else because they have not been frequenting my little pond that I set up for them some time ago. It has water lily and hyacinth growing in it. There are 5 goldfish to eat any potential mosquito larva. And the whole thing made it through the winter in it’s 40 gallon bucket. Well, it was way out of their flightpath and we just moved it over closer to the hive. The fish seem to like it and the plants will most certainly grow flowers there with more light. Now it’s just a matter of time before the bees discover it too. Hopefully! I do prefer the idea of them drinking water, which they use in honey curing, from a source that I can control then from someone else’s yard; particularly as it gets to be dry season around here. Other than that these bees are doing really well. I see them flying around the neighborhood visiting a variety of flowers and blackberries. They come home laden with …

Blackberries and Bees

The blackberries are blooming and though they are totally invasive in Portland, the Himalayan Blackberry that is, they are so essential to the life of urban bees. Blackberry nectar makes up the largest part of the annual honey production and is the last big flow before they settle down to fall activities like curing the honey they collected. Today I walked around my neighborhood and watched honey bees, most likely from my hive, busy collecting from blackberry blossoms, borage flowers, lavendar, wisteria and even cedum blooms. They are everywhere. Not only do the blackberries feed the bees, but they feed us with their delicious, juicy berries. Today I ate my first one. Yum! So while I completely understand the need to cut them back in certain areas. I certainly don’t like their poky selves wrapping through my tiny back yard strangling out the raspberries and veggies I so diligently planted. It is really important for the health of our bees that we leave some of the blackberries room to grow. And even more important that …

Inspecting the brown bee hive

Since I was on a roll I thought I’d check out the brown, top bar hive at my house too. It was 3 pm on Memorial Day. The temperature was about 65deg, slightly overcast and a bit windy. But I thought it was warm enough for a quick check. The bees were very busy at the front door. Really the most I have seen. But I’ve been at work mostly on the warm days. I had checked a week ago and seen lots of honey but no babies, so I wanted to get inside and make sure the queen was laying. Fortunately I got some practice at Zenger Farm on Saturday. See the bee with the yellow pollen pants? That is one indication that there is brood. They need to feed them a combination of pollen and honey to give them protein and carbs. The first frame I pulled out was all new, white wax. Now there are 8 frames filled with comb and 4 more empty ones for them to expand into. That frame …

Adding a second box to the green bee hive

We inspected the green hive today and the whole first box was full. They have been quite busy already. We saw capped brood and larva and even some capped honey. They have done a fine job building on the empty frames that had just a little wax strip at the top and bottom. So we added the second brood box with ten more foundation less frames. Jeff added a strip of wood into the top groove to give them something to get started with. Viridian was happy to eat some of the wax and propolis that we scraped off of the lid.  

Bees in their new home

It’s been a week since I shook the swarm off this branch. These are the ones who still lingered for a while after the shaking.Here the ones in the big plastic bin are fanning their little wings to call the others down from the branch. Late at night, after they’d all gathered in the bin, I installed them in my top bar hive in my little backyard. They moved right in to their new home and the comb left by my colony from last year. They went through a whole quart of sugar syrup so far and today I gave them a little more since it’s going to be a bit cooler for a while. They may really not need it. I looked around inside the hive and discovered that they are indeed storing honey and pollen. That’s a good sign. No baby bees eggs to be seen yet. I sure hope they know what they are doing. I’m a little anxious after loosing last year’s swarm, but these gals are way ahead and much …