Monday, August 25, 2008

Final Weekly Inspection of the Season

Sunday was my last weekly inspection of Bee Glad.... Other maintenance will be done before the winter wrap but weekly inspections of individual frames is done with.

The temperature was in the mid- 70s on Sunday with full sun and a slight breeze. The colder temperatures were noticed by the bees of course -- no "bearding" on the front of the hive. The bees were bringing in bright yellow-orange pollen.

The bees in Bee Glad... were again very defensive, so I only did the minimum. Most of the frames in the top deep (one of three) were filled with capped honey primarily. (A real heavy box!) The middle box was mixed half and half with honey and brood. The bees still don't like working the green drone frame in the middle deep. If given a choice between foundationless and plastic, they seem to choose foundationless. These bees are heavy propolis makers. The queen seems to be slowing in her egg-laying.

As I mentioned, the bees were quite defensive, flying at my veiled face, and stinging my ungloved hands. (I received six stings in my brief inspection.)

Sometime this week I will also do my final weekly inspection of Metpropolis, and go back and review my Beekeeping in Northern Climates manual to plan out my September and October tasks.

This winter I will plan out any apiary expansion and continue to research and write professionally in the area of environmental sociology. My chief difficulty will be time. School started today so I will have to switch into my professorial mode as well. It should be a busy school year.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Only One Mite

I did a sticky board test of Bee Glad... and checked it this morning. Only one mite found.

One Small Step

I received the following on our campus-wide mailing list this morning:

>>Good Morning, Everyone,>If you had a chance to attend the Community Picnic last night, I hope you enjoyed yourself despite the rain (but no bees!). Attached is a very short simple feedback form if you have any ideas for improving the picnic. Please feel free to offer any opinions or thoughts. >>Best wishes for a great start to the year!

Here is my response:

I hate to be technical, but those insects that disrupt picnics are rarely if ever bees. They are most likely yellow jackets which are small aggressive wasps. One very small step in helping honeybees survive is recognizing how non-aggressive they are outside the hive and not to confuse them with other insects.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Pollen Nation" Film to be Shown

The 25 minute independent film "Pollen Nation" will be shown in the President's Room at 8:00 pm Thursday night at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. The film is a brief documentary on bees and beekeeping. I'll report on the film later this week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Week 16: Today in Metpropolis

It didn't look like I'd be able to inspect this morning. It was cloudy and threatening. By noon, however, the weather was sunny, hot and humid and the bees were out flying. This week the bees were bringing in a dark, almost turquoise pollen.

I began with Bee Glad... but quit in a bit. They were somewhat aggressive today and while I did not get stung I was really not focused enough to deal with that. I did get to scrape off some burr comb they built under the propolis trap. The comb was sticky, full of nectar, which made me sticky as well. Earlier in the week, I'd put an entrance reducer on this hive to give them a bit of an edge against the wasps trying to enter. I placed a shallow super on today.

I had more success in my inspection of Metpropolis. The residents seem to be doing just fine. The queen (whether the original or one raised by the bees in this hive) looks like she is healthy and productive and the bees are bringing in plenty of honey. I've been worried about this hive getting too crowded so today I took two bars of almost entirely filled with capped honey out and added an empty bar and the follower board to one end. (I had taken the follower boards out to make room for two more bars.) The two capped bars I put in storage for possible use in the fall wrap up.

The supersedure cells seem empty, atleast they are not yet capped. I think they were built as a safety measure.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mated Drone?

I found this mutilated drone struggling on top of Metpropolis two days ago. I wonder if it had just mated. If it had, it makes me wonder where the drone congregation area is. (Looks above Beelandia!)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Treatment Treadmill

I have been reading Bell's Invitation to Environmental Sociology yesterday and am intrigued by his use to the treadmill metaphor. There are social, cultural, and economic routines that we get caught up in that seem to us almost impossible to stop without everything coming crashing down on us. We may get caught in the "treadmill of conspicuous consumption" where we attempt to constantly keep up with the Joneses as the Joneses relentlessly try to keep ahead of us, creating more and more consumption that seems to have no productive end and only negative environmental impact. The "treadmill of production" leads to producing more and more products, cutting more and more corners, using more and more resources, and searching for more and more potential markets, in order to attain higher and higher profits for stockholders who already seem to have enough.

Beekeepers find themselves on another treadmill that also can lead to disasterous environmental results: the "treatment treadmill". Whether we treat for prevention or because our bees have a particularly nasty pest or disease, we jump on a treadmill that can be hard to get off. Once we treat, and interfere with Darwinian laws, we help maintain bees who are weaker and will forever be dependent on our treatments.

Some may read this and say, "Well, just jump off this treadmill...Just say no to drugs!" The chief difficulty here is that the "treatment treadmill" is in a dialogical relationship (Bell) to other "treadmills" we are equally stuck on. How can I get off the "treatment treadmill" when my commercial beekeeping outfit is also stuck on the "production treadmill" or my family is stuck on the "consumer treadmill"? Hobby and sideline beekeepers face the same difficulties in their attempts to jump off the "treatment treadmill". How does the "prestige treadmill" play out at the local beekeeping club? Do I risk all the condescension and "I told you so's" by taking a "live-or-die" apicultural approach?

Metpropolis Inspection

I inspected Metpropolis yesterday and moved a few combs around. The hive has drawn up three bars almost entirely of capped honey. Two others are almost there. The rest of the hive has bars with different proportions of honey, capped brood, and pollen. The three supersedure cells are capped. I pulled one comb filled with capped drone brood for inspection and found a few mites on the larvae. The hives were brimming with workers and a good portion of drones. I couldn't find the queen in all of it however. The bees were fairly gentle considering some of the manipulations I made.

Either the queen has slowed down her egg laying, which is entirely possible at this time of the year, or she is deficient, as the queen cells seem to indicate, because there was only a scant proportion of capped worker brood, and I had difficulty seeing any earlier stages of worker larvae. The bees don't act like they're queenless, but the supersedure cells indicate that they seem to have some problem with the current queen. I will monitor Metpropolis carefully.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beelandia Devastated Revisited

The roof is done and everything is cleaned up. Except for a strip of flattened plants, Beelandia looks largely intact. I checked on Metpropolis and Bee Glad... and both hives look unharmed. The roofers and I were amazed by the gentleness of the bees. There were no stings through the entire roofing process. This is not to say there weren't "fireworks" during the work period. It seems that the chiropractor who has his office next door became quite angry at the roofing crew because they went 15 or so minutes beyond their estimated finishing time. He called the police in order to force them to move their truck. According to my daughter Nova, the chiropractor's behavior was very condescending and classist toward the workers. The contractor showed magnificent restraint.

Beelandia Devastated


Perhaps it was misplaced wishful thinking, or maybe I was just blinded by that short-term immediate gratification reinforced by our free market economy, but I hadn't expected the new roof to create this much destruction in Beelandia. Half the garden is now trampled by tarps and old roofing materials. The bees have had to deal with constant noise, passing workers, and falling debris. What stress effect this will have on the bees I cannot imagine. I am the bees worst enemy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Week 15: A Peek At Bee Glad...

I only peeked into Bee Glad... this Sunday; I will leave Metpropolis for later in the week. Bee Glad... is heavy with honey and thus the bees were rather defensive, so I only took a brief look into each box and left it at that. I pulled out only a few frames for inspection. I also did a 24 hour mite drop inspection as well. I pulled the shallow super as the only thing the bees seemed interested in doing there was chewing up the foundation. The hive seems to be doing quite well.

Again, the bees have avoided building any comb on the green drone frame in the middle deep. I will be pulling that out next week and substituting one of the 10 honey capped frames in the bottom most box. When this happens, all boxes will have only 9 frames.

Early Sunday evening, Mike and I rigged a protective "awning" over Bee Glad..., using some old wire spools as columns, and a plywood sheet as the "awning". Our roof is being done this week and this hive is close to the house and possible falling debris. The roofers are cool about both hives and have made some accommodations. One of the workers, who is from Costa Rica, was actually quite excited to see the bee hives. From what I could make out, he did a little beekeeping once upon a time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Week 14: Six Stings and Possible Supersedure Plans

I was in Chicago this weekend and it rained yesterday. I was finally able to get into the hives late this morning and early in the afternoon on this muggy, partially cloudy day.

Not much to report on Bee Glad..., the Langstroth hive. The top box is so very heavy with honey. The other two contain some honey and brood in various stages. The hive is brimming with bees, all ready to sting me in order to protect the products of their own labor. I was stung 4 times working Bee Glad... this morning.

Metpropolis, the Kenyan top bar hive, is also brimming with bees but it seems that they also have some other plans afoot. There are a few bars heavy with honey but there was also an inordinate amount of capped drone brood, and three supersedure cells on the comb of one bar. While I found some capped worker brood, there was not as much as I thought there should be. I will watch Metpropolis closely over the next week or two to see what is up. I hope they can produce their own queen without my intervention.

I was stung twice working Metpropolis.