Thursday, July 16, 2009


Don't get me wrong, I really love bugs. Clearly I do - I keep thousands of them like pets in the backyard and study them as a citizen scientist.

Nonetheless, looking out the window right now is rather like being in one of those cheesy horror movies. You look out the window - you feel compelled to look even tho you know in your heart of hearts that it is just too creepy. Then you look and... it IS creepy.

I am totally blown away by the sheer volume of insect life that is around my windows. I am sure -in my head - that they are always there feeding the spiders that I am never more that three feet away from and all that. And now I can see that one rather large tasty bug is, hopefully, going to be some spider's dinner as it struggles, caught in the web a spider so elegantly woven next to my light.

Ah the circle of life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


First the good news:

Hope's girls have been busy. I put an extra honey super on before I left. Honey supers are where bees store people honey. One super is nearly full and the other two are well on their way to full. I must say, I love the way a hive looks with three honey supers on it - nice and tall. The supers are heavy - I use small supers for that very reason. A small super is easier to lift when full weighing in at around 25 or more pounds.

The white on the frame is the caps wax on the honey. This keeps the moisture content perfect - about 17% moisture. If the honey is wetter it can mold (YECK) and if less than 14% it will crystalize.

The wax is white because the bees don't walk on it much so it stays nice and clean. Just like kids, bees track in all sorts of junk - whatever they walk in outside, they leave on the floor or wax.

And now for the bad news:

Hope is leaving.

This is a capped swarm cell and one of three capped queens I found. These girls were quick. Before I left there wasn't so much as a queen cup - the beginnings of the queen cell. They must have worked quickly during the wet weather. Just like the rest of us, they got squirrely being cooped up inside.

This was the largest queen cell of the bunch so I am guessing this is the one the workers want to have be the new queen. So even tho this was not a supercedure where the bees are unhappy with the queen, we are still without new eggs or small larvae.

So this is what the top of the hive looks like:

We have a four week window in which to see small larvae or eggs. If we don't then it will be a time to get a new queen or more likely, I will combine hives.
If I were going to be around, I could use these other queen cells to make new hives, but we are really full with three hives. I hope to expand next year if, and it is a big IF, we can make it over the winter. I know it is so strange to be thinking about winter while wearing sunscreen and shorts, but if don't work like a bee now, then we won't have bees next year.
Sigh. I am so sad to be Hopeless.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tickled Pink

Pink Rocks! This is a picture of her larvae. They are the white, grub-like "C"s in the cells. She obviously found time to mate in all rain, get her butt back in the hive, and start laying eggs like crazy.

In the picture on the right, you can see her eggs. They are the little white dashes in the bottom of the cells. I had to use a bright flashlight to get a really good view of them, but thanks to my new found knowledge from Rick R., I can tell they are less than 48 hours old. Wow!

I love the temperament of these bees. They are super sweet and very blond compared to my other hives. I love love love Pink!

I've found a name for Trey's daughter: Sum. This is the Mandarin word for three and is pronounced soom. Sum had lots of bees and plenty of honey the hive so I gave them a second story. I moved their two full frames of bee-honey upstairs and gave them some fresh frames to work on so Sum has plenty of room to make babies.

I realized that I am managing these hives for bees. I would love to see both hives strong enough to overwinter. Combining hives, like most blended families, is fraught with challenges. Where would they live? Who would be the queen? Soo I am hoping to have bucket fulls of bees in both hives soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bees at Disneyland

Check it out - my mom surprised the kids with a short trip to Disneyland and I found bees! I couldn't get a good shot to see if she had on Mickey ears, but she is in a beautiful section of the California Adventure Park that is focused around the movie Bugs Life.

All the rides and activities in the bug section were very well thought out and over the top cute. This mini park was more targeted to kids younger than mine but we had tons of fun. Our favorite was the water park where it made us feel like we were the size of bugs. A sprinkler cooled us off and randomly squirting water kept us amused.
Not far was a beautiful pollinator's garden. The only pollinators we saw were bees. Honeybees were the easiest to see, but there were smaller native bees as well.

I love how they used a variety of native flowers that were all sorts of colors and shapes. I bet that there is something in bloom all year here. What a soothing sight after so many lights and bells and whistles.

I miss my bees.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bees in Paradise

We are visiting my mom in Arizona and it has been quite the vacation. We've been together for about 10 days and the kids are really wearing on each other. They can irritate each other faster than the speed of light. It is taxing my patience to play referee.

Of course no trip would be complete without bees. This is a Mexican Bird of Paradise in my mom's front yard. We've seen bees in it every day.

My mom had a funny lesson in the need for bees. She has an enclosed porch and has one of the upside down pots where she's growing a tomato. She's been quite unhappy with it because she hasn't gotten any tomatoes despite the lovely foliage. If you grow the tomato in a cage so the bees cannot pollinate the flowers, you will not have tomatoes. We moved it outside and are going to build it a canopy that is open to the bees.

I chatted with some local beekeepers at my mom's farmer's market. One person is a hobbyist like me and the other is a small apiary. The farmers are militantly organic, but had some interesting suggestions on how to manage my own bees in a gentler way.