Bee Photography and Sticky Gloves

Photographing your bees and activities around the hives has always been a complicated affair for me. It is not just the sticky gloves and irritated bees that annoy me. The propolis gummed shutter and dead batteries usually occur exactly when you want to capture that special occasion. I don’t deny that after thirty odd years as a photographer, I am more accustomed to constructing or fabricating an image. Grabbing shots by chance has always challenged me and left me disappointed with the results. My impatience usually got the better of me and I would walk away frustrated, swearing just a little planning my strategy to return. If I did manage to obtain that special once-in-a-lifetime image, I felt guilty that I had no hand in its capture or I was just extremely lucky, not worthy of its capture or future increase in invoicing. The old, being in the “right place at the right time”.

So when you come across someone who does know how to photograph bees, well they should be complimented. That someone is Eric Tourneret. I had seen Eric’s work some years ago but it was while I visited my local library recently that I stumbled across his latest book “Les Routes Du Miel” Link: (by Eric Tourneret and Sylla De Saint Pierre). His work shows a great understanding of his subjects. His lifelong passion is something viewed with respect among photographers. It is when a photographer has “gone narrow, gone deep”. His work is inspirational not just photographically with great composition and angles but apicultural-ly. Eric has placed a tremendous number of his photographs on-line for everyone to see and this proves, to me, his love for the bee and their environment. Each page is filled with large photographs from beehives around the world with written text from respected professionals who add a sense of urgency to the bees present endangered predicament. I can highly recommend this publication, even more so when you are a beekeeper and know just how tricky it is to get special photographs. If you have the chance, grab this book from your local library or perhaps purchase it for your own pleasure. Thank you, Eric.

Be warned though, this volume is in the oversized book section and perhaps not for Grandmas old knees.

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New Queens and idle hands.

Our beehives are very busy. Both have increased in population and the workers are busy cleaning the added honey boxes. We have had good temperatures lately so ventilation boxes have also been added to each hive. The surrounding fields and ditches are full of wildflowers and weeds. Today we have a temperature of 30C degrees and a week ahead of us predicted in the mid-twenties. If we get less than anticipated rain this week, we may even be able to add another honey box on each hive. I tend to add more than necessary at this time of the year. With ample space above the hive and comb awaiting nectar, the bees are less congested and fulfil their respective duties. Following the old expression, idle hands…

Well, you decide. The following are a selection of various quotes from a lot more famous or recognised people than myself.

“Idle hands make fretful minds.”  Shelley Shephard Gray

“You should not have idle hands, you should always be working. All your life.”  Ivan Bunin

“You can bet the rent money that whatever politicians do will end up harming consumers. … Economic ignorance is to politicians what idle hands are to the devil. Both provide the workshop for the creation of evil.”  Walter E. Evans

“The devil finds work for idle hands to do. Better to reign in the hell than serve in heaven. We are in bondage to the law in order that we may be free.”  Marcus Tullius Cicero

“The people who are unemployed want to do the work, but the system is such a catastrophic failure that it cannot bring together idle hands and work. This is all hailed as a great success, and it is a great success – for a very small sector of the population.”  Noam Chomsky

Sadly, a lot of these quotes are from grumpy old men, some dead, others alive. But you get a general idea.

And now some mugshots of the hardworking Queens.

Esperanza

(With a dot marked in yellow for 2017)

queen chile

Rachel  

(Unmarked but just as wonderful as she about to lay, centred in the photo.)

Rachel Queen

A second hive established.

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We have established our second hive in the last few weeks. We were lucky enough to obtain a nuc from the local beekeeping association, Apicentris. These nucs were bought from an apiary close to Granby, Quebec. Once again a big thank you to this organisation which is really advancing urban beekeeping in our region. We are lucky to have this group of enthusiastic folks so close.

So what’s a nuc? It consists of four or five panels enclosed in a box made of plastic or cardboard. A nuc has two panels of honey and two more of fresh brood with eggs or fully formed larvae. Plus, the all-important freshly mated queen, who we have named Rachel. Upon receiving your nuc, you can place the panels directly into your awaiting hive. The hive population grows quickly if extra panels of honey and empty comb are added at the same time.

Nuc 2017

Presently the hive is bringing in pollen. The weather has not been conducive to a good year so far. Cool days and evenings with rain twice a week has been the norm. Most of the blossom has finished and our bees would have missed collecting it. This is not a problem for us at the moment. We are still establishing hives and being patient while the bees grow accustomed to their new surroundings. They will be spending a large amount of energy cleaning the old hive and re-arranging honey stock to their liking around the boxes. This is perhaps more so for the first package we obtained from Chile. These bees are very docile and their queen named Esperanza seems busy increasing her lineage. There, however, have been rumours of them asking for a return flight back to Chile. Since my Spanish language skills are non-existent, I am ignoring everything. It seems the weather is not to their liking…, I cannot blame them!

The eggs and new larvae can be seen in the photo below.

bees 2017

On another note, all our extra hive boxes and Top Bar hive have been sold. Thank you to everyone that inquired.

 

New Bees

Last week we had the pleasure of visiting Apicentris at the Ferme Moore. Although a wet and cold morning, Pablo, Daniel and other members managed to get all the bee packages inserted into their hives. These tubes of bees had just been delivered from Chile the night before. Purchasing packages of bees from other countries is not new and we were lucky enough to obtain a tube of bees surplus to their needs. With high losses in our area this Spring, finding new bee stock has been difficult. Especially if we want then early. We were lucky as our tube held plenty of bees so we should be able to get up and running quickly. All we need now is some warm weather…

Many thanks to Apicentris for making these bees available to us.

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Hives for sale

Langstroth deep brood boxes for sale.

We currently have some unneeded Langstroth deep brood boxes for sale. They are in good shape, disease free and either two or four years old. Each box comes fully loaded with ten panels of either comb or honey mix. This would allow you to start a package of bees or a nuc with a good population of bees going into the winter. Each box with panels is $30.00 Take two and we supply a cover and bottom board. Photos below:

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Top Bar Hive for sale.

The next hive for sale is a Top Bar Hive. I built this hive two years ago but it has never been used. It is still in great shape with a newly added roof. The hive roof comes off and there is a small window at the back for viewing. It has a screened bottom plus a small plastic feeder that can be placed inside. A number of bars are included to get you started and the end panels are insulated for winter. The mice resistant legs can be unbolted to make the pickup in a vehicle more convenient. This hive would suit someone wanting to try the Top Bar method of keeping bees or for an established beekeeper to raise emergency queens in their yard. Price: $150.00

If you are interested in either of the hives mentioned, just drop an email to us at:

cuissesdevelours@gmail.com

 

Varroa mites

The last posting explained how we lost two hives over the winter. I can now report we have lost a third. The last hive is trying very hard to survive and now that the weather has improved, the bees are showing a good sign by bringing in nectar. This, in theory, means the queen is alive, laying eggs and the worker bees are bringing in nourishment for the new population. The small colony will be checked fully in a few weeks but in the meantime, it was reduced to one box, cleaned and given a plentiful supply of honey. We remain hopeful.

Spring pollen-white2017Spring Pollen-yellow2017

Some of you will be wondering about Varroa and what it means to a hive. I will refer you to another website where there is extensive information on all aspects of these nasty little critters. There are numerous, thousands of websites about Varroa.  Why re-invent the wheel, so to speak. Rusty Burlew has a wonderful blog and her research and practical information will help many beekeepers, not just about Varroa, but all in aspects of hive management. Recommended!

https://honeybeesuite.com/varroa-mites/

Varroa Destructor.

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Varroa destructor (Credit: Wikipedia)

We have learnt that our neighbour has lost all four hives this winter. Since they were not treated for Varroa last fall it is easy to see them by looking through the bottom board debris. If you look to the right of the dead bee in the following photo you will easily spot the dead Varroa. Small brown/reddish coloured dots that show the top or sometimes overturned and displaying the small legs attached. These mites are equivalent to having a football sized parasite permanently attached to the back of your body. They then slowly suck your blood all day and then decide to reproduce in your child’s bed, continually. You get the idea…

Varroa detail

In the next image which displays just a few square inches of hive area, I counted over 60 varroa. Yes, of course, you can count them.

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Great job! Now let’s see how you go with the next photo…

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Great job, well done! Your prize is in the mail.

We will update soon with photos of our new hive location and the plans to build a new “old style” beehive.