Cow Tipping

Cows, it seems, are curious. And, well, not too bright.

This was the third time that Okie has lost hives to cows. We will be installing a solar-powered electrified fence around the hives shortly.



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.






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.

Dispatches from the Hives

I road along with Okie yesterday morning as he made is weekly journey out to two sets of his beehives. Here’s the first one:

Pretty much as soon as we got out of the truck, Okie saw that something was wrong with the first hive… there was straw at the entrance to it. Although this was only the second time that he’s seen such a thing in his years of tending hives, he knew it probably meant that a mouse or rat had gotten into the hive and destroyed it.

Sure enough:

He explained that if a hive wasn’t too strong, it couldn’t fight off such an attack. The only thing he could was to open the hive up so other bees could come and recycle whatever was left.

We’d brought with us hive modules from which the honey been extracted.

We put a module on each of the remaining hives (so that the bees could clean them out), and left the others standing-up in the trailer for easy access.

We were then off to a second installation for a general wellness check.

In one hive, Okie was trying to get the bees to build honeycombs directly into jars. Although there was some activity, he thought that it wasn’t going to well, and that he’d probably end-up removing the module from the hive.