Saturday, April 13, 2013

Novice Mistake and Hive Management

Yesterday, I did a very invasive operation on the 2nd hive. Here is what happened:

When I checked the hive on Wednesday evening, I see lots of bees hanging out at the back of the hive and some at the front. They were outside of the hive just sitting. Even if I don't have any experience with bees, I knew it was strange. I could not figure out what's happening so I decided to give them some time to settle. Then, yesterday evening I went there to do an exterior inspection, hoping that they all moved inside. But, nope, they are still sitting outside the hive like bums :)


Then light bulb lighten up. I have Brushy Mountain equipments, and screened bottom board. I forgot to put the white board in place. There is about one inch wide space under the screen. One third of the bees managed to get inside the hive box; one third of the bees land under the screen, building combs; and the rest are hanging out outside the hive just sitting.


I had another empty hive on my car, immediately decided to take an action to transfer every thing into the extra hive and immediately placed the white bottom screen board.

Due to my ignorance, I caused a very bad situation for the bees, and caused lots of stress to them. I had to disturbed them unnecessarily, and moved them into another hive. I feel bad about my mistake, well what can I do? I am a beginner... :(

On the other hand, I am proud of myself for figuring out the problem in time and then fixing it, (hopefully, it was a successful operation). Well, this is called  hive management ? :)

Such an exciting and intimidating experience it was yesterday...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Second Bee Colony

I start to appreciate the idea of having local bees more and more. I found a swarm from Cupertino, and installed it 5 days ago. My first bee colony, check out some pictures here.

I go foundationless. Today I went to check weather they are building combs properly. I was scarce to death to see burr comb. The good news is they are following the guides of the starter strips. I was so happy.

Furthermore, I had another empty hive placed near the first hive. The hive was sitting on an Ikea table on the ground, so it's about 1.5 ft high. I had put some swarm attractants, since I don't have any old or new comb to use. And, guess what another swarm  reclaimed it as their new home.


Freebees, and local bees, it can get better only if they are from untreated colonies :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bee Sting Allergy

Having checked out for stinging insect allergy is a must for anybody considering beekeeping.

People may have allergies against: honey bee, white-faced hornet, yellow hornet, paper wasp, yellow jacket, common wasp. And, yes, one can have an allergy against honey bee sting but not any other ones.

Couple of months ago, I visited my doctor to get the tests. After waiting few days very anxiously, the results came. A scale between Class-0 to Class-6 is being used to indicate the possibility of having allergic reaction. It turns out that I'm "Class-0: Negative" for all, except honey bee. For honey bee, it is "Class-1: Very Low Positive". Well, according to my doctor: "This can not predict what type of allergic reaction I would have to honey bee whether it would be just small or large but still local reaction to sting or it would be life threatening reaction."

The next thing that my doctor checked is the tryptase level. People with high tryptase level would have increased risk and severity of the allergic reaction... This condition is called systemic mastocytosis. Mine turns out to be normal, which is a good news. But not so good. After all these mambo-jambo, my doctor told me "without a clear history" she can not say that I don't have any risk with bee-stings, and she offered to prescribe Epipen for me to carry around, just in case...

"Well", I said, "Doctor, looks like I need to build up some history... Let me go ahead and build some..."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My First Bee Colony

Last Wednesday night, I got a call from one fellow beekeeper from Santa Clara Bee Guild. He said "I happened to have captured a swarm today, would you like to get?" I was so excited and it took only 5 minutes for me to reach to his house to pick up the box.

The swarm was caught at Cupertino. (For the record, to track the lineage.)

I let the package sit in my car during the night, of course with cracked open windows and sunroof. I installed them to one of my hives early next morning. I think I did all the right things and installed the swarm successfully.

Usually, bees accept the new hive as their home easily, but sometimes they don't like it and abscond. Well, I hope they like what we offer them as a nice cozy home. Now, it's up to bees to decide whether to accept our offer or not. We'll see...

After three days, I did a quick exterior inspection. There is some foraging activity, which is good. And also checking the screened-bottom-board, I see lots of wax flakes on the board; this means that they start to build comb inside, which is great. Looks like bees are happy with their new home :) I hope they are building the combs within the frames, otherwise it is going to be really messy to deal with.