Sunday, November 3, 2013

Late Afternoon Orientation Flights of my Bees

Yesterday I came out to visit the hives to a wild amount of activity.  A considerable number of bees were flying around one of the hives. 

Orientation flights are done by young bees who are experimenting with flying outside the hive.

They are easy to recognize as they are young and fuzzy and take small flights off the landing board.

You can watch them take small flights, just off the board with subsequent flights going just a little further!

Orientation flights will cause a lot of activity at the hive, sometimes this is confused with robbing.

When you watch orientation flights though you'll realize that in the buzz of activity everything is actually quite calm.

Many beeks initially confuse orientation with robbing behavior, robbing bees will typically be in a frenzy, wrestling on the ground and causing damage to combs.  Look for pieces of wax dropped through your screened bottom board.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Omano microscope for Beekeeping

The Omano is pretty cool microscope.  I'm planning on doing a nosema check next weekend.
Did a sugar sifting yesterday, put tupperware beneath the hives and checked today.

The color and shape matched varroa, but when magnified it was a severed ant head...very odd

I counted 8 varroa under Hive 2

I've got an ant in Hive 3

I think a 20-40x stereo dissecting microscope would be better for helping my eyes recognize varroa for counts, but the higher powers are necessary for nosema.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Omano Microscope First Inspection

I finally have a microscope that has sufficient power to really look into things!  I'm looking forward to learning how to do nosema counts and other great beekeeping stuff...however for now I'm on the hunt for varroa.

I went with an OM36 so I had the right magnification for nosema in the future and still retained the ability to play with viewing varroa.

There is lots of information on using a microscope at

I gathered up the oil board from hive 3.  Hive 3 is strong and overflowing with bees.

I found lots of pollen, which is really cool under magnification.  Definitely little pieces of plants all over the place.
Unfortunately I found a varroa mite.  While it's only 1 that is 1 too many and indicates they are present in my apiary.

Varroa destructor is a menace to beekeepers across the globe.  They are a very real part of CCD as it seems varroa + neonicotinoids cause a severe problem for bees.  Maybe the neonic's make the bees too weak to sustain attacks from varroa based virus attacks.  I think the scientists are still out on exactly the mechanism.

I'm going to run oil boards under all three hives to generate my 24 hour hive count this weekend after doing a good sugar shake on all the hives.

It's about to rain sugar my girls, prepare yourselves.

Damn varroa, I'm after you now suckers.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Neighborly Relations

Recently we went to all our neighbors on each side for 2 houses to give away honey.  We figured it'd be a good opportunity to talk to them about bees.  What a great idea it turned out to bee!

We had a great time talking to our neighbors, shared our experiences battling wild coral snakes and why bees are so important.
Our neighbor closest to the hives said he sometimes fogs for mosquitoes while mentioning it doesn't work all that great.  I asked him to just let me know when he was spraying so I could keep the bees in that day and he said he'd probably not spray then....

Clearly they're at the top of next years honey list!

All our neighbors seems psyched up about having honey bees in the area.  Not one mentioned having any negative reactions!

We're definitely hoping for honey next spring so we can bring jars to the neighbors again.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

National Honey Bee Day

This weekend is National Honey Bee Day and there are quite a few events here in High Springs!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

War against Small Hive Beetles, Battlefield High Springs

Due to the location of my house my yard is not exactly a sunny open field, so hive beetles are a challenge.

I've been modifying screened bottom boards so I can slide a tray of vegtable oil under the hive which is doing a good job and increasing casulties for the the little monsters.  Unfortunately their communications network with SHB headquarters is still in place and they keep calling in for reinforcements.

I've managed to reduce my SHB count from around 50 in two days to a more manageable 5 for one hive, my other two are sitting around 1-3...but I'm a stubborn adversary and want complete destruction.

The trays are also kind of a pain to manage and I figured I'd try a product called the BeetleJail screened bottom board.
Once it stops raining I'll be installing this one in my weakest hive.

The bottom board has a slide out veggie oil trap that looks easy to clean and refill,  I'm looking forward to seeing how effective it will bee.

BeetleJail Bottom Board

Beetle Jail Bottom Board

*Also allows for varroa checks using the slide in white board.

And here it is installed in my hive