Tag Archives: Beekeeping

Excellent presentation on bees by Cornell University Professor, Thomas Seeley

Honeybee Democracy by Thomas Seeley

Honeybee Democracy by Thomas Seeley

We were fortunate enough to attend the presentation in Denver given by Cornell University professor and bee researcher, Thomas Seeley.  Seeley has been researching bees for the past several decades and in particular the communication of bees in a swarm. He calls it “swarm intelligence” and

Here is a link to his presentation:

http://multimedia2.geneseo.edu/GreatDayKeyHinted.mov
((he starts his presentation about 1/4 way into the video))
This presentation was not as relaxed as the presentation we saw in Denver as the crowd was asking questions and Selley was telling funny stories along the way. What an inspiration to see such positive enthusiasm towards the bees!

Seeley has written several books we recommend:
Honeybee Democracy – a great read, fun and interesting comparison to human democracy, but also fascinating information about bees communicating in a swarm
The Wisdom of the Hive -this is much deeper read,  really delving into the details of his studies

Here is a great synopsis of his work studying bees swarms:
Thomas Seeley’s work

enjoy!

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Journaling about your hive

Journaling about your hives is a great way to take note of how the hive is doing and a good way to keep track of things that need to be done with the hive as well as a fun way to refer back to what the hive was like during different stages and over several years.

For me, I always think that I’ll remember everything that goes on with the hives but when I don’t journal about it, I sometimes forget those little important details about the hive and then 3 months down the road I notice the hive is doing exceptionally well or maybe they’re not doing as well as they were the year before, than I can refer back to the journal as to weather patterns, what the hive is doing, how the bees seem, what I did with the hive in the past year, etc. It definitely comes in handy and is very informational to be able to refer to each time when going into your hive/s.

I also like to take pictures of the hive through the window before and after going into the hive as another way of observing the bees and overall hive view. Hive journals definitely become very fun and interesting scrapbooks years down the road as well!

Here is a list of some things to include in you bee journal:

~Date bees where placed in the hive (or year of the hive)                                                             ~Overall temperament of the hive and where the bees came from: local swarm, package of bees, nuc, etc. (Include as much information as possible about where the bees came from including hive type and age of hive)
~Date of first pollen coming in and the source if known
~Date of first dandelions blooming

More things to keep in mind and journal about each time visiting your hive:

~ Date, weather, temperature, time of the day, overall mood of bees, clenliness of landing board, drone population and any other observations you notice.

~If opening the hive, it’s helpful to also include reason for opening hive and your observations while working the hive, what you accomplished or hoped to accomplish, note anything that needs to be done in the hive, prospective date and check it off when completed. Any observations about your hive or the local environment and weather.

~ It’s always fun to take before and after pictures as well as photos through the window at different times of year and stages of the hive.

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Filed under Hive info, local climate, Thoughts and ideas....

Bearding Bees

As the days are getting hotter and the hives are all brooding up for the nectar flows, it’s the time of year that you’ll see large clumps of bees hanging on and around the entrance of the hive to keep cool and let more circulation of airflow into the hive. It’s totally normal and occurs when the hives are all brooded up in the spring and summer as the weather gets hotter both night and day.

During this time of year and into the hot summer months, be sure to check that there is adequate airflow around your hives, your hives are well shaded for a good portion of the day and be sure to keep replenishing the source of water for the bees as they can go through a lot of water on those hot summer days!

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Swarm Season 2011!

The smells of spring are wafting in, dandelions and trees are flowering, the days are getting longer and the bees are buzzing. The honeybee colonies that did well over the winter are flying about in search of early nectar and pollen while deciding that it’s time to spread some of their genes off into the world in the form of swarms. The old queen prepares to swarm just when things are barely getting going again in the spring and she lays an egg in a special cell designed for a future queen bee. The old queen takes off with part of the colony just when the new queen is about to come out of her cell. The rest of the colony stays in the hive with the new queen who shortly thereafter goes on a mating flight and begins her life as the new egg-layer while the old queen and group of workers head off in search of a new home. This process is called swarming and usually happens in the first few months of spring, roughly end of April- early June in Colorado.

When bees first swarm they usually collect on a branch or bush to recollect while sending out scouts to search for a new hive. This is a great time to hive a new colony because in addition to having a stronger genetic knowledge of the area (having overwintered in the local area) through the swarming process, they are also determined to find a new home and are on a mission to build up a new hive starting from scratch.

~~~ BackYardHive Offers Free Honeybee Swarm Removal~~

Swarm season is over for 2015

If you have bees in a structure
(soffit of your house, hollow pillar, attic,or anywhere else)
and you want these bees removed
we don’t do this service

If you see a swarm please call
Bee Swarm Hotline
720-443-2331

 

~~~

For more info follow this link to the BackYardHive website Read More….

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Vanishing of the Bees film showing in Boulder

Where: Boulder Public Library
1000 Canyon Blvd., Boulder, CO 80302

When: Oct 27th -Wednesday

Time: 6pm doors open,
Film Starts: 6:30pm promptly

Cost: $10 donation

Why: Because we LOVE the bees!

http://www.vanishingbees.com/trailer/

http://vanishingbees.co.uk/

All admission fees go directly back to
supporting the honeybees through a public outreach program
to bring awareness to pesticide spraying (residential
and commercial) that is adversely effecting the bees.

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Last (and first) swarm of the season

The other day… well really June 25th, my phone rang at about 6:00pm just as I was sitting down to dinner. It was Margaret. “Guess what?!” she exclaimed. I took a wild guess: “your little hive bees swarmed?” “Yes!” she said. “Want to go on a swarming adventure and catch them?” so about 10 min later when I had finished eating, I gathered my bee supplies and headed out to catch a late swarm of the season.

It was quite the adventure of the day! David and Simone (Margaret’s son and his partner) were there to watch and take pictures and Billy witnessed the excitement from the kitchen window with his binoculars. There they were, thousands of buzzing bees all clumped up together hanging from the branch of an apple tree. Margaret cut the branch the bees were on while I held it and gently lowered the whole cluster of bees and branch into the box and put on the lid. Hardly a buzz to be heard… it was a very smooth swarm catch!

We secured the box onto the top of the ladder to let all of the bees get in and later that night Margaret closed the box and moved them into a sheltered place under a russian olive tree waiting for us to install them into the hive the following day.

We carried the box over to the new hive location after the evening goat milking. With the false-back just after the 11th top bar toward the front, we removed 9 of the bars leaving on each end to serve as a sort of lip for the bees to get into the hive. “Vhooom!” They were in with a bustle of energy. As the bees crawled up to the top of the hive, we replaced the top bars and sat by the hive, waiting for a bit to make sure they seemed content and satisfied with their new home. Everyone was crowding on the landing board sticking their butts up in the air “fanning” to let the other bees- and the world- know where their new home is. We watched as they all slowly made their way into the hive until only a few bees remained on the landing board. What a late season adventure it was!! Ironically, this very group was the one Margaret and I caught in mid April from one of my hives that had been hers the previous year. Hopefully these girls will be happy in their new home and find lots of nectar to keep them through the winter safe and strong. What a great swarming season it was!! All in all, backyard hive and bee guardians around the area caught about 70 swarms  this season. Whew!!

~Photos courtesy of David Hollander~

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To use smoke or not to use smoke….

OR      

I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about honeybees lately and it makes me wonder about when beekeepers use smoke and the effect it has on the entire hive. We top bar people have it really easy in the way that smoke isn’t at all necessary to use because only one or two combs are exposed at a time in the hive so we’re only aggravating about 1/8th of the bees in the hive at a time and as we file through to the next comb, the last one is closed with the previous one again. It’s a great system in so many ways and for me it’s easy to say “oh, smoke isn’t necessary!” “why stress them out more by causing a fake fire for them and wasting all of that energy they put forth to evacuate and gorge honey when it could be used for cleaning the hive, dealing with pests and collecting food?””Smoke messes up all of the hive’s pheromone sent and ways for communication… it’s hard to get the smell of smoke out of things after being around a campfire and so on… imagine how much smoke residue would be in a hive if it’s been smoked every week for even just one year!”

While I do agree completely with all of the reasons and questions I ask for not using smoke, maybe I’m missing some crucial point about why Langstroth hive users and especially commercial beekeepers tend to use smoke. It could be that the Langstroth hive is designed for speed and to work the hive by quickly being able to take out frames and both because of this and that taking off the lid exposes so much of the hive. Even the organic beekeepers who use langstroth hives use smoke! I wonder what the theory is behind it because it seems so unnatural and rude to just smoke the bees out so blatantly. It could be too that the smoker is a bit of an emblem for the beekeeper and as Corwin has mentioned, maybe we need a new one. Perhaps the artistic hive tool or a grass brush… Any ideas??

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