Monday, June 22, 2009

Forget the new car smell....freshly vacated nuc box is heavenly

I can't quite remember the last time I could see the mat in the back end of my car. You see the back end has become the vortex for all things bee in the universe. The back seat well, it has a few dead gals but with Johnny Cash belting out Folsom Prison Blues it's all good.
The powder that you see right above the words "last time""on the edge, see it? It's a shade of tan. It's Mega Bee and it seems to be helping them build up after that drippy month.
" I hear the train a comin it's rolling down the track"

"Z" Very Good Day

Z's vignette brings back fond memories to all of us that installed our first packages alone!
Thanks for sharing

6/17- Bee Day. I wasn't quite ready to have my bees at home but if I didn't take this opportunity I don't think I would have gotten any bees this year.
So on the morning of the 17th I busted my butt to paint my hive and get it into place were it would stay, of course all done with a little help from Dan, my boyfriend.
In the afternoon Dan and I went to Kentre Farms and picked up the package. The anxiety slowly began to rise. You could hear quite the hum coming from the back seat as we drove home. When we got home I suited up and took all the tools necessary to hive the bees. I walked back to the hive with the girls and made Dan take pictures from a little ways away. I sprayed the bees with a little sugar water and then I was off. I tried to get the feeder can out and I couldn't get a hold of it with my gloved hands.I was freaking out a bit so Dan came over and helped me pull it up part way and then walked away. I pulled the can out and the queen and then covered the top of the box again. I was shaking by this time. A lot of bees came out with her on her cage. I brushed them off and they were flying all around me. She was alive and moving around her little cage. I pushed the two bent nails into her little cage with my shaking hands, grabbed the pliers and pulled out the cork to put in the candy plug, and hung her. While I was doing this I think some bees were escaping from the box because I had only put a piece of card board over the hole. A fare amount of bees were flying around me at this point. I finally got her hanging though and grabbed the bee box and started shaking them over their queen and into the space where the frames had been removed. I gently spread them out with my hand and replaced the missing frames. I put the inner cover on, the food chamber, added the feeder and closed it up with the outer cover. My heart was pounding hard.
Finally I left the box with the bees that didn't come out in front of the hive and walked away.
For the hour after I was still really jumpy from having so much anxiety while hiving them but I couldn't stop looking at them and wondering if they liked their new home. I kept walking out to the hive to see if they were going into the hive and to make sure they were still there.
Today I have found myself just as curious with a lot less anxiety. I went and sat by the hive this morning and watched them come and go. I think they like there new home. I am going to be a good bee momma once I can stop shaking when dealing with them, I guess that will come with time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Happy Birthday x 2

It's been a year since I received the Cease and Desist notice from the city of Denver. It was June 12Th ,Peter's birthday and the bee-gining of work that would eventually bring to fruition an ordinance allow beekeeping in the mile high city. As I read the notice anger and fear coerced through my veins.

At first, it was just about keeping bees. With all that had been written concerning their decline it seemed the least I could do. Host a box of bugs.
It quickly turned into something much deeper for me.

Marduke had arrived at our door step like so many other animals. He had been relinquished as a sickly eight week old pup at, our local veterinarian, Planned Pethood.
He was all legs and had enormously sad eyes that enveloped me. He took over my heart and would become a very dear friend.
It was near the end of my beekeeping course that I had Marduke put to sleep.
The decision, his absence, all of it left me feeling as though I had been hit by shrapnel and I couldn't, just couldn't determine the size of the wound.
I lumbered through spring half-heartedly awaiting my packages of bees.

Following an installation hives must be checked frequently. Is the queen in there? Is she doing what a queen does? Are the workers drawing out comb?

Trepidation does not a beekeeper make and I had very little in my initial encounters. In Marduke's absences I was numb and found it difficult to summons any; joy, excitement or even fear concerning the bees.
Each time I was working with the girls, and I was thinking about Marduke which was all the time, they would sting me. I was caught in an eddy of thought and emotion. Had I made the right decision about Marduke? The fact that it was my decision was eviscerating.
With each trip to the hive they painfully nudged me back to present. After numerous stings, which gave way to swollen body parts, I realized that they were offering me a respite from my grief. The peripheries of our worlds afford a place for me to leave my torment, sorrow and sadness.
When I was able to quiet my thoughts they declared a ceasefire and let me work among them.

When we lose a being of precious nature it's first physical and then we scramble to hold them in our thoughts. Our grief is about reconstructing a place for them in our memories.
My fear was letting go of Marduke, however each time I participated consciously with them I came away with another small piece of building material in the form of acceptance.
The bees are and will always be a place for me to take myself. I had to let go of a buddy and they consoled me.
The energy of a hive is exurbanite and nourishing.
The hive is an organism that seems to embrace life and takes death in stride.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Home Sweet Home

This swarm precariously placed itself right across the street from mi casa.
Our good neighbor Alicia provided the electrical outlet for the handy bee-vac. One flip of the switch and they all quietly disappeared into the box.
Captain Kirk then shuttled the lovey's to Allison's home where they will undoubtedly live happily every after.

Dandelions are Flowers...and edible at that

Why do we as citizens have no say in whether our parks are sprayed with potentioally dangerous chemicals?
All the parks in the state of Illinois are chemical free as are the parks in the great cities of San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Helena..............why not Denver?
Dandelions are important plants for bees. Not only is their flowering used as an indicator that the honey bee season is starting, but they are also an important source of nectar and pollen early in the season.

Monday, June 8, 2009

One of these things is not like the others

Wasps vs. Bees

Wasps are the insects that most people can relate to seeing at their picnics, especially yellow jackets. While they can be irritating at times, they do serve an important ecological function. They are predators of many insects, especially crop eating insects. Parasitic wasps are beneficial because they can be released into agricultural systems and they serve as natural biocontrol of insect pest populations. They lay their eggs on or inside their host and as the wasp develops it feeds on its’ host. The hosts are usually what we consider to be garden pests like: tomato hornworms, aphids, cabbage worms, armyworms, and strawberry leaf rollers. After the parasitic wasp completes development it emerges as an adult and kills the host.
Wasps also serve as food for many other species, like birds, and thus contribute to the food chain. Also, because some species visit flowers for nectar they can be inadvertent pollinators. There are hundreds of species of wasps in Colorado, and like bees they are part of the heritage of the land. In the San Francisco Bay Area some of the most common wasps are: yellow-jackets, paper wasps, mud daubers, sand wasps, thread-waisted wasps, and potter wasps.
Wasps and bees are often mistaken for each other, but knowing a few key features of both can help one tell them apart. Bees gather pollen and nectar from flowers to use as food for their offspring. Wasps are carnivorous and hunt for other insects or spiders, but some also visit flowers for nectar. Bees usually have very hairy bodies and pollen collecting hairs on their legs or under their abdomen to help them accomplish this task. Wasps tend to have few to no hairs at all because they don’t intentionally collect pollen.
Some bees look like wasps because they don’t have much hair on their bodies. They collect pollen and store it internally in their crop instead of on the outside of their bodies. Some other relatively hairless bees, cuckoo bees, don’t collect pollen because they lay their eggs in the nests of other bees. Wasps usually have more elongate bodies, longer legs, and sometimes have what looks like a pinched waist, whereas bees usually look more compact. There are other physical differences between bees and wasps, but they are hard to make out without the use of a hand lens or microscope. So, if you see a busy creature flying from flower to flower and actively collecting brightly colored pollen, then you can be fairly sure it is a bee.
Bees actually evolved from predatory wasps (apoid wasps), so bees and wasps have a lot of similarities both in appearance and behavior. Bees and wasps both have two sets of wings, unlike flies, which only have one. Also, only the females of bees and wasps can sting because the stinger is actually a modified egg laying apparatus. Behaviorally they are similar in that they both have social and solitary species. Yellow jackets, like bumble bees, have seasonal colonies that form in the spring and die out in the late fall with the queens overwintering to start a new colony the following year. The majority of bees and wasps though are solitary, and the female does all the work of building and provisioning nests for her young.
One wasp that a lot of people confuse with bees is the yellow jacket. Unlike honey bees, yellow jackets and other wasps don’t leave their stinger behind when they sting something, therefore they are able to sting several times in a row. These social wasps form papery nests both above and below ground that can contain anywhere from 50 to 5,000 individuals. The larger the colony gets the more aggressive the wasps become. This usually happens in late summer/early fall when food is in short supply. Yellow jackets then become nuisances at picnics eating whatever they can find. The adults will sting and paralyze insect prey as well as scavenge from carrion to provide as food for their offspring. As adults they mostly feed on nectar, honey dew, and rotting fruit.

A. Wasps are critically important in natural bicontrol as almost every pest insect species has at least one wasp species that preys upon it. Parasitic wasps are increasingly used in agricultural pest control as they have little impact on crops.