Posts Tagged ‘foraging’

Busy Bees

June 5, 2010 5 comments

And busy beekeeper. The gap between the boxes had become so wide that the bees were using their new side “entrance” more than the front opening. I was worried about marauding bands of robber bees taking advantage of this difficult-to-guard arrangement, so I moved all 24 frames (brood, pollen, honey, and many bees) to new boxes. I noticed that the foundation in the top box hadn’t been drawn out at all…

Two days later, as if to show me who was really boss, the bees started acting out. They gathered into a small, dense cloud outside the hive entrance. Hundreds of them started lounging around on their front porch, buzzing suspiciously. Even towards the end of the day, when they’re typically safely tucked in, there was an unusual amount of activity:

There was nothing to do but call my favorite beekeeper from the S.F. Beekeepers Association for a consult. He graciously agreed to come by today for a hive visit–and spent 2 1/2 hours with me and the colony. We rotated the first and second boxes (to give Latifah more room to lay eggs) and moved the top box’s undrawn outer frames to the inside (to encourage the bees to draw them out fully). These changes eliminated what turned out to be a crowding problem. Whew. The bees are behaving normally once more. I can sleep tonight. Thank you, beekeeping mentor!


Bees are Way Better than Sims

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Seriously. We’ve got a “life-simulation” game going on right in our very own backyard. Gender and class issues (queen, worker, drone); environmental concerns (El Niño, the nectar flow); political intrigue (the reliance on foreign sugar water)–all in one little, wooden box.

So, here’s the cast of thousands, foraging, on a fine, spring day.

I wanted my kids to be able to see the pollen baskets on the incoming bees’ legs, so I saved a section in slow motion. The bees seem a bit less graceful when you see how narrowly they avoid bumping into each other. (Or not.) But it’s still impressive that all the take-offs and landings are accomplished without air traffic controllers.

And now for the great news: I saw the queen! She’s a lovely golden color–and, yes, looks like a stretch limo compared to her daughters. She was running around on the 5th frame (of 8). The bees have drawn out beautiful, white comb on about 7-1/2 of the frames. There’s capped brood and larvae on the middle frames–and brightly colored cells of pollen (orange, yellow), as well as lots of nectar, on the outer frames and on the tops of the middle frames. This was a wonderful hive inspection. (Or as the bees would probably say, “Hey, a space alien just took off our roof!”)

The bees needed more room, so I stacked another brood box on top. They’re well on their way to a lovely, cedar high-rise.

Sugar water bottle empty; replaced with fresh 800 ml bottle.