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I worked with BEES! A photo-essay.

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I worked with BEES! A photo-essay.

Old 09-11-07, 01:39 PM
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I worked with BEES! A photo-essay.

A friend of mine had a swarm of wild bees move into her garden wall last year. She had done beekeeping as a kid, so she set out a hive for them to move into. The bees ignored it for a while, but eventually they swarmed and sent a portion of the colony into the hive. She left the new hive unattended for a while, but then decided that she wanted to cultivate bees. She bought a new level (called a 'super') last week and put it on top of the old one. Yesterday, I went to help her do inspection and repairs. It was definitely a two-person job.

Here's me.



Here's the tools. You can see a pry bar, a smoker, gloves, a new entrance, and a couple of roofs (that won't be used).



First she smoked the hive. The bees smell the smoke and go into emergency mode. They gather a bunch of honey in case they need to leave in a hurry. Being full of honey makes them calmer.



Bees glue everything together. So every time you want to look at something, you have to pry it apart. Here, she's prying the new super from the old one.





Here's a huge praying mantis which was walking past the hive. We stopped to take a picture.



Inside the super are the frames of pre-stamped honeycomb shaped material. The bees are expected to build off that pattern.







Here's the old super. She's trying unsuccessfully to pry out a frame. The frame broke apart before it came loose. She pushed it back together.



Before the bees moved in, wax moths got into the hive. They left their remains (corpses and silk) in this corner. The bees isolate garbage by forming a wall of propolis around it. It's made of pine pitch, and it's very sticky and tough. Here, she's scraping out the propolis and the remains.



Sadly, the bees ran out of space before she added the new super. They bridged the spaces between the frames with comb. There is no way to get them apart while the bees are living in there.



In the spring, she plans to add a new super below this one. The queen tends to move to the lowest level and start laying there. Next summer, my friend will remove this super. Then she'll break it apart and clean it up so it can be used again.

All those divots in the wood that you can see on the top right side of the picture are more wax moth damage.

Then it was time to put a new entrance to the hive. It goes on the bottom of everything. The wood of old one was pretty rotten.

Not only did we have to lift the hive and pry off the old entrance, but I had to rotate the entire hive 90 degrees. The old entrance was on the long side of the box. The new entrance was on the short side. If we had moved the entrance from the west side, where the bees expected it, to another side, the bees would get lost.

This super weighed sixty or seventy pounds. I had to lift it while she pried off the old entrance. Naturally, there are no pictures.

The bees became very unhappy when I lifted up their hive and rotated it. Up until then, the bees were making a mildly annoyed sound. Now, the whole hive started making this angry buzzing sound. Attack bees were flying around us. You can see one in the next picture.

Here's the new entrance.



We decided that the bees were stressed enough for one day. Any further work would have to wait. So we put everything back together.



They are very gentle bees. After all that disruption to their lives, none of them followed us more than ten feet. We inspected each other for bees, front and back, and took off the suits.

Here's a picture of her honey harvest from the first trip out a few days before. Tasty.


Last edited by Nick Danger; 09-11-07 at 01:50 PM.
Old 09-11-07, 01:46 PM
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[Gob Bluth]
Bees?
[/Gob Bluth]
Old 09-11-07, 01:49 PM
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Cute!
Old 09-11-07, 01:50 PM
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So very cool, Nick!
Old 09-11-07, 02:03 PM
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the preying mantis would freak me out more than the bees!
Old 09-11-07, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by djbrown
[Gob Bluth]
Bees?
[/Gob Bluth]
You beat me... and in the second post no less. Nicely played sir.
Old 09-11-07, 02:16 PM
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cool. is she doing this to harvest the honey?
Old 09-11-07, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
cool. is she doing this to harvest the honey?
Eventually, yes. She met someone who is encouraging amateur beekeeping. He will actually bring a honey extractor to her house for free.

I hope to score some.
Old 09-11-07, 02:40 PM
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Thanks for the images very cool.
Old 09-11-07, 03:41 PM
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The horror the horror! I kept bees with my son and inherited them after he moved back with his dad. Not a lot of fun for me since I'm scared of being stung (and was a few times--bees do get in that bonnet if you're not careful.) She probably saved those bees, though, since there is such a bad mite problem with wild bees (not many left, I've heard).

I love praying mantises! What a cutie. We had one that I caught a few years ago--they make very sturdy pets. Ours lived till winter. I guess they die even if they're inside.
Old 09-11-07, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Nick Danger
First she smoked the hive. The bees smell the smoke and go into emergency mode. They gather a bunch of honey in case they need to leave in a hurry. Being full of honey makes them calmer.
Fascinating! Always saw beekeepers do this, but never knew why. Thanks for the info, and all the pix!
Old 09-11-07, 03:46 PM
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Thanks for putting this together and posting. It was an very interesting read
Old 09-11-07, 04:04 PM
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Dear Nick...please purchase a Flash.

Other than that, that was pretty cool. I'd like to do that for a day!
Old 09-11-07, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by wildman1037
Fascinating! Always saw beekeepers do this, but never knew why. Thanks for the info, and all the pix!
All they usually say is that smoke calms them but not why, very interesting. Also, I did not know about the prying aspect to get the honey but it makes since with the honeycomb stuck on everything, etc. Thanks for the pics/info!
Old 09-11-07, 04:46 PM
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Thanks for the pics and info, Nick. You're the bee's knees.
Old 09-11-07, 04:47 PM
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i particularly like the picture of her taking a picture
Old 09-11-07, 04:57 PM
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I'm allergic to this thread.

I broke out in....hives
Old 09-11-07, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by lordzeppelin
Dear Nick...please purchase a Flash.

Other than that, that was pretty cool. I'd like to do that for a day!
I turned off the flash because I was afraid that it would disturb the bees. I decided that calmer bees was a good trade-off for motion blur.

Last edited by Nick Danger; 09-11-07 at 05:39 PM.
Old 09-11-07, 05:44 PM
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The smoke probably also makes them sluggish because they're not getting enough oxygen.
Old 09-11-07, 06:01 PM
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Here's how I get my honey:




It may not be exciting, but damn if it isn't a fuckload easier.
Old 09-11-07, 06:21 PM
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Nice pictures! However these guys used a different approach in handling bees. I don't believe they used enough smoke.

http://forums.**************.com/sho...readid=2243176
Old 09-11-07, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
Here's how I get my honey:




It may not be exciting, but damn if it isn't a fuckload easier.
Me too. Honey that is not in a bear bottle does not taste right.

Old 09-11-07, 06:46 PM
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Are you sure it was bees you were working with? Are you sure it wasn't....ALIENS!!??


Old 09-12-07, 06:41 AM
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Old 09-12-07, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by LASERMOVIES
Nice pictures! However these guys used a different approach in handling bees. I don't believe they used enough smoke.

http://forums.**************.com/sho...readid=2243176
Oh man, I literally burst out laughing at that one. Thanks for the link to an awesome thread.

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