Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Swarm Season Continues

I got a call from Rob on a Monday afternoon about a swarm that had landed in his tree earlier that day. After confirming that it was honey bees and that they were still there, I headed out to grab them. Rob and his family were eager onlookers and helpers (thanks for the camera work Cameron!). A few pics of the swarm in the tree...

It was a relatively easy capture and went perfectly. My usual swarm-catching helper Jonah was with me but he got distracted by his new friend Nate, a big backyard and a cool swing set! Here's a video.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Rooftop Revival

At the end of last summer we had some work done our roof and I had to move the one remaining rooftop hive elsewhere. I really missed being able to look out of the window every day and watch the bees. But, we are back in business on the roof. It has become my nuc yard where, at the moment, I have 4 nucs growing up. If you have seen old pictures of the roof, you'll notice that we used to have it white-coated. For now it is black, which makes it REALLY hot up there on a sunny day. I'll have it white coated again, but probably not until next year.

Two of the nucs were made from some of my multi-year survivor stock. I let the queens mate locally and they are both laying well. The other two nucs were made with queen cells from Jeff Eckel of Instar Apiaries. Jeff has been raising queens in Philly for the past few years. I got two queen cells from him and installed them in queenless nucs that I had prepared. These queen cells were special - they were from a "Purdue ankle-biter" breeder queen.  These bees have been bred with a special hygienic behavior, they bite the legs of varroa mites off, which kills the mites (click the Purdue link to see pictures of the mites with their itty bitty legs bitten off). Both queens mated despite our wet and cool May and they are both laying strong. Here are a couple of different views of the nuc yard, including into Center City.


Comcast Center and Tower in the distance

Climbing out of the window to get to my rooftop hives is a bit of a pain (actually more of a pain every year!), but having these mini hives out there is relatively manageable because at least I didn't have to haul full size boxes out of the window. I plan on moving these to my other yards when it is time to put them in full size hives (well, maybe I will keep one out there for my viewing pleasure!).