Friday, April 8, 2011

Third Time is the Charm!

Tonight as we finished supper, Mark got a phone call.  Birney Imes again. This time the bees were in Columbus, at a local coffee shop.  He said the bees were hanging off a sign, two feet from the ground.

Good-bye, quiet Friday night at home. Hello, bees! Because it was getting darker by the minute, we threw our gear into the truck and sped toward town.  At a stoplight, we saw our friends Jay & Gay, who seemed highly amused by our excitement about our "date."

We arrived at Kudos (which was closed) and couldn't find the bees anywhere.  Mark asked an employee at the gym next door, and he hadn't seen any bees.  I began walking toward a far corner of the parking area to investigate a small metal sign by the driveway.  Mark was in his truck, prepared to drive around the neighborhood looking for the swarm.

Then I saw them, covering the corner of the sign, facing away from the building and the parking lot.  Right next to the road!

Mark set up the bee box in record time.  He sprayed them with sugar water, and I held his atlas underneath them to serve as a slide.  With one strong WHAP on the back of the sign, he knocked the bees into the box. The put the extra frames in, put on a moving screen and top, and loaded the hive in the back of the truck.  It took less than 10 minutes.

We drove out to Barhams' Bee yard, and called Frances en route so they knew to expect a truck driving around in the dark.

This is BB1 (white) and BB2 (yellow), the latter of which arrived just yesterday. The lack of numerical order is going to bug  me.

BB1 had to give up their feeder when the new hive arrived yesterday, but we think there's plenty of nectar and pollen to be found, and they were going like gangbusters on Sunday. They should be fine!

The newest hive, BB3, is in the center.  We had to take this jar feeder from the hive at our house because we don't have any feeder boards available, and our order won't be ready until Friday (we'd hoped for tomorrow since we'll be in Alabama for a wedding anyway).

Tomorrow we plan to work our yard on Bee Hill, remove the feeders from 2, 3, & 4, add supers to those three, check to see if we need to add supers to the rest, and then take the feeder boards and feeders to Barhams' Bees on Sunday.  We'll likely take a few Back Saver 1000 hive stands too, to expand that yard.

We have just 2 more hive covers at this point, so if we get more than 2 swarm calls next week, we'll have to get creative!

We were alerted to another swarm earlier today, but it was on campus at the chapel, and the bees were about 35 feet up on the carillon tower.  Since it's Super Bulldog Weekend and the location was nearly impossible to access, we had to let them go.  I hope they found a better home on their own!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Another Swarm Call!

On Monday, Mark caught a swarm in Brooksville.  He was able to back up his pickup underneath the peach tree they were in, spray them with sugar water (so they couldn't fly away), and gently scoop them into a hive box.

He set them up on the second set of steps in our car port. The boards on top were insurance against the big storm that blew through Monday night.  The weather didn't bother the bees, as they have steadily drained the bee tea jar daily.

This hive was intended to be BB2, but today Mark received a phone call from local beekeeper Birney Imes. He'd gotten a call about a swarm in Columbus and had all the bees he wanted. So Mark went to town, found he could once again back up to the swarm hanging in a white oak tree, and relocate them to a hive box. He drove it straight to the Barhams', moved the feeder from BB1 to the new hive, and came home.  Once he relocates this car port hive, the Barhams will have their limit of bees!

Thanks, Birney!

Back Saver 1000 Bee Hive Stands Installed at Barhams' Bees

As I mentioned in an earlier post, our friends Eldon and Frances Barham allowed us to put three Back Saver 1000 bee hive stands near their lake.  Before we set them up, and I use the term "we" liberally, Mark cleared the spot with his weed eater.

Next, he used his compass to find east/southeast so the hive entrances could face the rising sun. The warmth helps them rise and shine!

Next, he measured so the stands would be spaced equal distances apart.  (Can you say OCD?)

Andrew waited at the truck until he was needed to perform a special task.

The Great Balancing Act: Andrew stood on a board while Mark whacked the stand into the ground. It took great trust, considering Mark forgot a mallet and was using an axe. After I shot these pictures I stood by Andrew so he had something besides Mark's head to hold onto. They were both happier with that arrangement.

When the bubble hit level on both at the front and back and lengthwise, we were done.

It's a good thing we put in three . . . as you can read in a future post!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Swarm Call!

I called Mark on my lunch break, as he'd sent a text that he was going to get a swarm.

Fortunately, this time we are 100% sure it's not one of ours!

He's in Brooksville, in a very rural area.  Local beekeeper Art Potter (who helped inspect our hives last year) called Mark to alert him to the swarm.  It appears the home owner had called for Art to remove the bees from a barn or other outbuilding, and while Art waited for warmer weather, the bees decided to swarm so he's letting Mark have them.  Thanks Art!

The plan is to bring this hive to our carport area and set them up on some brick steps we don't use, then move them to the Barhams' bee yard in a few days or after we're sure they're off to a good start.

Remember these tips if you see a swarm in your yard.  If you're in the Golden Triangle area of Mississippi and have a swarm of bees, call Mark at 662-418-4422.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Introducing a New Bee Yard and Hive: Barhams' Bees 1

We're blessed with fabulous friends who support our passion for bees.  Eldon and Frances Barham let us set up three "Back Saver 1000" stands on the opposite side of their lake in the middle of March (and I have an entire post of pictures to share about that process eventually). Remember that swarm call on March 22nd? Those bees ended up with lakeside accommodations, with both ag fields and one of the finest gardens I've ever seen near enough to supply their every need.

Waterfront Property for the Bees.

We paid the bees a visit this afternoon to check and see how they were doing.  Mark has fed them bee tea twice, and today the jar was empty.  He traded the jar for a round feeder he picked up last week at Rossman (that's another post too!).  But before we put it on, we decided to check and see if we could see wax, brood, etc.

So, here is BB1 as Frances and I decided to call it.  

Above the deep hive body there is a feeder board that has an entrance hole so bees can go in  at the top or bottom or the hive.  We noticed the yellow stain from pollen hitting the board as they fly in. The bee on the right is loaded up with pollen.

Eldon Barham, who really wants to get closer to see what is going on.

My dear friend Frances, who sat in Mark's truck to watch the proceedings. Eldon was stung once years ago and had a terrible reaction, so she's not thrilled with Eldon's fascination with the bees at this point, but thinks they're far away enough from the house to be permitted to stay.

Mark fired up the smoker, just in case. It was sunny but very windy, and the bees have stung him repeatedly both times he's come out to feed them.

A bonus bug sighting! This grasshopper was soaking up some sun on the metal cover.

This is the first frame we pulled out.  The bees are grouped around open, uncapped honey/nectar. Notice the yellow pollen stains on the tops of the frames closest to the entrance!

I backed up to get a shot of Mark working and was excited to see so many bees and some solid yellow, capped brood.

This is when we got really excited.  That appears to be solid capped brood, with uncapped brood just below it (the white mushy stuff is bee larvae!).  They're also storing pollen around the edges of the brood (the gold stuff on the bottom).  Mark said, "I bet this is one of our high dollar queens who swarmed off."  Often when a swarm leaves, the queen is older and needs to be replaced. But this one is doing a fantastic job.  I saw her before Mark did, which always tickles me. I love finding the queen! (If you click on any of the photos, you should be able to see larger versions of the pictures.)

It's no big surprise these bees are thriving, because everyone who comes to the Barhams' house is pampered and fed well.  Eldon wanted us to take home some frozen figs and corn, but we knew we weren't going home soon, so we had to turn him down. 

We spent the next several hours on bee-related tasks, but that's a story for another day, as we were putting up swarm traps and looking at a tear-out in someone's house.