I have been without bees for a few weeks now since the death of Ester II. I was sad, but my mourning is over. I was able to do a double rescue with my best bee buddy Willow. We had reports of two owl boxes occupied by bees that needed to come down. Both were in really rotten shape and not long for this world.
The first is this guy only about 8 feet up in a tree. It must be reasonably full of bees, because it weighed a ton and they had started building comb under the roof entrance.
I pulled the comb off, duct taped shut the 40 odd holes and cracks that they were coming in and out of, then pried it off the tree. We took it home, screwed it to an inner cover, and drilled a hole in the bottom of both. Hey presto, couldn’t be easier!
I shot a little video right after we got them in place, then again a day later. I think they are here to stay for the long haul.
With my new hive secure, it was time to pop over and take a look at the next one. First though, we had to visit some new baby chickens!
Ok, on to hive number 2. This one was a bit higher up in the tree. What do they say, don’t look down?
This one felt really light and was very rotten. We got it home and instead of drilling a hole we just pulled the bottom clean off. We found a small hive, with not much comb. They must have moved in recently.
Once again the duct tape came to the rescue. We didn’t think screwing it down would work well. Doesn’t that look pretty!? Time will tell if they stay or not.
My friend found another hive setup in the floor of a piece of industrial equipment nearby. They were going to rebuild the equipment and wanted the bees gone. Imagine an ISO shipping container with two layer thick plywood and a load of bees setup underneath.
I can see a few of them, I wonder how far back they are?
Oh boy, that is looking like a lot of bees! There was a lot of equipment inside that couldn’t be moved, so I had to do some creative crawling and cutting to get into the floor. Lots of cutting and prying later we had pay dirt!
There was about a foot of space between the two floor bars, and they went back about 4 feet from the outside wall with comb and bees. We came up with a new technique for getting the comb back home. Put them in empty frames, and use string to bind it in place.
This worked really well. One person would hold the frame upright and keep the comb in place while the other would wrap the string around. At first we were trying to be really careful with clove hitches and half hitches to keep it all together. After a while, everything got so sticky in honey that you could kind of just wrap a few times and it would all stay put. Hopefully the bees will expand that comb out and cement it in place. Later they will either chew through the string, or you can remove it yourself.
There were a lot of bees around. I will try to update in a few months when they get well established to see if the string trick works.
We had a first in our beekeeper careers. We helped rescue a wild hive that was setup in someone’s shed. Lots of mistakes were made and a considerable amount of improvising occurred. Here is the scene, a shed next to someone’s house has a very active hive coming and going from the corner.
It was hard to get a picture of, but there were a few bees coming and going every second. This was obviously a big active hive. A bit of work on the outside panels led us to thinking that they were probably setup under the floor. A stethoscope would be helpful next time. We did some cutting between the joists and came up with this chunk of floor.
Lots of slow careful work got all the comb out and into a medium box. We should have brought a bigger boat!
This was the only box I had spare, so it will have to do. In addition we did a lot of really careful vacuuming with a shop vac. We were able to grab thousands of bees this way, and they all seem to have survived the encounter. This hive was found by our friend Willow, and it is going to live in her yard. She has a thing for hot pink. Good luck in your new home bees!
Bonus Farm Tour
I got to start the bee rescue day off with a short lecture to the Melbourne Village community garden about beekeeping. They were very interested in beekeeping, but had a lot of questions. After a bit of chatting they are on board and are looking into doing a few hives as a community.
After the rescue we were invited to one of the garden member’s backyard. We got to see chickens and sheep and goats oh my!
The best part of it all was the dozen eggs I got as thanks from this backyard farm for giving my little bee talk. Fellow beekeepers should seek out local community gardens. They would probably be interested in hearing about beekeeping as a matter of interest if nothing else. Some might be into it enough to start their own community bee hive! Seriously though, check out these eggs!
The hive is going like gang busters! We had a weight increase of 4 pounds last week, and 5 pounds this week. They are starting to pack away a lot of capped honey in the deep, and they are filling the outside two frames. Time for a super!!!! Look at that gorgeous growing hive.
In bad news I got stung a few times. I didn’t have the smoker lit well at all, and managed to fumble getting the first frame out. Oops! From now on I need to make sure I always have the smoker going well before I crack open a hive.
For all the Florida heat and trials by sting I am still glad to have bees and look forward to seeing if they have done anything with the new super next week. I updated the bee journal to include the new super weight as well. I measured it empty so any weight reported is purely honey/bees/wax. The empty super weighs 11Lb 12oz.
I took some time out to stick my GoPro at the entrance of our hive. There was a lot of activity, and if you look carefully you can see some coming in with pollen on their back legs. Almost therapeutic to see and here them coming and going like that.
My parents were in town to spend some time with us and watch as the smoke and bees fly during our routine inspection. Everything looks good, and we had a special discovery. We finally got to see Queen Ester! Special thanks to mom for being on the spot with her phone camera. The queen is the longish looking one at the very tip of my finger. Hard to see even with a photo.
There was some rain and a touch of cold this week, so the girls only gathered an additional 13 ounces of weight. Still a good haul for a week with some wild weather.