Unhappy Bees

There are days when the bees just seem to be unhappy. This was one of those days. We’d gone out to the hives to remove the MiteAway strips and to insert fresh pollen patties.

The third shot is of Okie using a smoker to calm them down a bit.

I shot with the D300/14 mm combo again. Glad that I had on my goat-skinned gloves.

As unhappy as the bees were that day, neither of us were stung.





Sugar Water and Pollen Patties

This trip involved putting fresh pollen patties into the hives, refilling the sugar water bottles, and refilling a water bucket. We visited two sites on the trip. Still amazed at how docile the bees are even though we’re opening-up their homes.

Some establishing shots.



Opening up a hive.


Putting a refilled bottle of sugar water onto the hive.


The tool of the trade. Pretty all that needs to be done with a hive in the field can be done with a hook-end hive tool.


A bucket of pollen patties. Okie makes these himself.


Corks are put in the water bucket so bees can drink without drowning.


One set of hives occasionally shares space with cows. We’ll get back to this in a later post.


Bees using propolis to seal a gap in the hive. (Okie will repair it later in the season.)


View of the beautiful crescent of hives that share space with the cows. Again, we’ll touch on this in a later post.



Our last trip out to the hives was for a pretty simple task: put a strip of MiteAway in each hive. (I’m interlacing pictures from a few of the hives which were treated… just in case the change in hive colors was confusing.)

Okie started by puffing smoke into the entrance of the hive, and then into the top.

Next, he took the lid off of the hive, removed the top module, and again puffed smoke onto the bees.

Notice how the bees just kept working on away on the cover of the hive, and that there isn’t a swarm around us.

There were certainly a change in the buzz of the hive, however, and workers were definitely checking us out… more on that later.

The bins of the main hive were then separated, and the strip was placed inside.

Afterward, Okie strapped the MiteAway container and a hive module (that had been left for the bees to clean out) to the back of the truck, and we headed out.

Because the truck was relatively close to the hives, and with some of the bees still showing an interest in us, we left the suits on longer than usual.

btw, with my new goat skin gloves, and not wearing any lotion on my right arm, I didn’t get stung on this trip.

Dispatches from the Hives

Well, another day out at the hives. This time started with Okie refilling the water bucket just in case the bees got thirsty.

Next, Okie added sugar water to two of the newer hives.

This? Well, this is the flower from an invasive little weed that sours the wheat but produces wonderful nectar.

Anyway, with the watering done, we donned our suites and started going about the business of the day. First, Okie emptied out the full yellow-jacket trap. Nasty little carnivorous things. They swarm around the ground of the hive waiting for bees to drop or be thrown out (story about that later). Sometimes they try to enter the hive itself. When this happens, the bees group around the bees and flap their wings and overheat the yellow jacket.

And, with that done, the smoker was set alight.

The main task of the day was to transfer bees from two nuclear hive (five slots in width) to permanent hives of ten slots in width. Okie had picked-up the hives earlier, and they were still strapped for easy transit.

Oh, before we get too much into this, the pictures at this outing were shot with my D300/14 mm combo, instead of the iPhone 6 used previously. That is to say that I was kinda up close.

Okie began the transfer by lifting the lid on the nuclear hive, and blowing-in a bit of smoke.

Then, it was just a matter of transferring the trays from one hive to the other. One thing to note is that, although the bees were clearly concerned about what was happening, there wasn’t a swarm around us. Most bees just kept on with their assigned tasks during the process.

Here’s another look at one of the trays, with one of the bees taking a look at me.

And, this is getting toward the end of the process. The trays from the old hive are left-out so that the bees can clean them out.

Oh, in this shot, Okie is demonstrating how to get the remaining bees out of a nuclear hive… by wacking it on the top of their new home a couple of times.

One thing I forgot to mention was that Okie first replaced the nuclear hives with the new hives. Some of the bees started coming into the new hives even without any of the old trays having been installed. Seems like they used some sort of GPS.

Introducing Mr Lyle Alzado

Soon after I moved to Beijing, I brought over my cat Clyde. About halfway through my time there, Clyde died. The vet, seeing how distraught I was, gave me one of her personal cats (Xiao Mao). When my family moved back to the US, we brought Xiao Mao with us. Xiao Mao died here in the middle of July. The wife and I decided we were done with cats for awhile.

Then, we saw this:

Which led to this:

And this:

And, well, this:

Lyle is a seven-year-old American short-hair. Although big boned by nature, we’ve got him on a diet. The vet said that he was about 12 pounds when he last came into the shelter (he’s been there a couple of times), but is now around 16 pounds.

We’ve had him for a bit over two weeks, and he’s fitting in just fine. Leo (our Shih Tzu) is now well aware that Lyle outweights him and has claws. Leo actually likes cats, and I think missed having Xiao Mao around.

When they were taking my name for the adoption, they found that I was already in the system… turns out I adobted Blue (Siamese-mix whom I adored) 16 years ago.


Dispatches from the Hives

Okie and I went to another of hive location last week. This one is at Presentation Center, where honey is on display and can be purchased.

It is a smaller installation than that we visited the week before, but still darn pretty.

Since we were going to be opening-up the hives, instead of just adding modules, Okie fired up the smoker, and doused each hive before cracking them open.

Here is the activity on the inside of a lid.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the keeper and the hive. If the hive doesn’t thrive — and the queen isn’t protected — it doesn’t produce honey.

Okie only takes honey from the top module , leaving the rest to the hive. To ensure that the queen doesn’t get into the top module, a metal grating is put between it and the second module.

Here is a closer look at the activity:

This is a slate from the second module of a hive.

Considering that we were opening up their homes and pulling slates out, the bees were quite docile. There were definitely some protestors, but they mostly went around their business.

I did get stung on my right hand. First time since early childhood. Had some redness but no swelling. Typical “puss-pocket” for what was left of the stinger later. Felt relieved to get this out of the way.

This is one of the buildings at the retreat.