first swarm capture

there are days when things just come to you.   i was about to leave on another bee escapade one afternoon when Joe comes over and tells me there is a swarm in front of his apartment.  plans were changed, our friend Erik was summoned and very quickly i was propped on a ladder against the zapote tree holding a box below the very gentle bees you can see in the picture above.

Erik directed the whole operation and it lasted about an hour.  swarming bees are usually quite peaceful since they don’t have any honey to protect.  swarming bees are also in a very fragile state.  they have a window of days to find a place to call home (hive?) before thee food reserves in their stomachs run out and if it rains they are screwed.   capturing a swarm is quick and easy compared to doing “cut outs” (literally cutting a hive and putting it into a box) and doing “trap-outs” (trapping bees out of a place where the comb is inaccessible to the beekeeper) but the chance of success is also lowered.   the swarm can decide to fly away -after all they are looking for a place they like- and sometimes even if they decide to stay in the human managed place  the beekeeper offered there is the risk of the virgin queen being eaten by birds when she ventures out to mate.  for more info on “cut outs”, “trap outs” and swarm captures head to the backwards beekeepers blog.  if you want to see more pictures of this capture check out this picture gallery.

anyway, our first swarm capture seems to have been successful, so far that is.  i checked on them every day four days after we put them on the roof.  on day one i took this video where nothing happens except for bees coming and going from the “nuc”(nucleus) box, there are the occasional pollen packed legs and the cool vertical take off maneuvers, but otherwise i only expect hard core bee fevered geeks to watch the whole thing:

after two weeks we transferred the frames inside the nuc box to a larger permanent home.   the bees were very active and had drawn about three half frames with comb.  they were feestooning (“a lacework of bees hanging together, leg-to-leg”) which is quite amusing to observe.

here is a picture of their new home.  i’ve been playing with a hexagon pattern stencil (utter bee-feverish) and this time i used four hexagon shaped rubber feet.   i welded the stand with random scrap metal parts. i’m a bit dubious about the way i implemented the oil cans, still working on that.

bees dig flowering artichokes

going to the roof just to watch the bees is not practical nor desirable (from the roof’s wear standpoint).  so i noticed some bees coming to the artichoke flowers today and took this little video (and only after uploading it did i notice there are many more like it on youtube):

bee fever!

The New LAEV Beehive

this weekend was filled with bee action.  we saw a talk with Kirk Anderson from the Backwards Beekeepers, we went to see Erik’s beehive (The shop-vac beehive itself) and with his gracious help we transported a beehive to our roof.  our friends Fernando and Hazel are moving to Argentina so they generously gave us their established beehive.

the move was interesting and challenging.   we tried to tape some mesh to the entrance at night but we failed, there were too many “bearding” outside of the landing pad and they got really angry so we decided to rethink our strategy.  not wanting to carry an angry beehive through the halls of the building with escape holes haphazardly closed with duct tape.   i made a large bag with vinyl and mesh and we did it in two steps: first, we smoked them during the day and carefully slid the bag under the hive.  then we came back at sundown, smoked them again, and pulled the bag over the whole thing as quickly as possible.  that made it safe to transport.  we left a “nuc box” behind to catch the stragglers.   it was quite the operation.

the picture on the left is the hive in its new home with the customary L.A palm tree in the background.  the white box on top is a new addition.  the green boxes below where built by fernando himself.  the bees are getting used to the new location.

here is a video i took after adding the new box on top, it has some annotations about the stand and the oil cans:

and here is a closeup the the bees cleaning the original top, complex and amusing beings they are: