Kathy, (aka "Bessie"), and I began our beekeeping experience in the fall of 2008, when we began a year-long course in beekeeping through the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We got our first package of bees in April of 2009. At the suggestion of our daughter, Jessica, we are logging our beekeeping experience. Hope you find it interesting. It has been interesting, rewarding and entertaining for us as well.
We went out yesterday to take a look at the hives since it was edging above 40 degrees. I wanted to see how many were flying and pull out the tray on each to check them. Bees were flying, more from the newer hive. In hive #1, though, when I pulled out the tray I noticed right away some small black particles. They appeared to be a couple millimeters long and segmented. They were located in the same part of the board as the cappings that have dropped through between several frames. Each time I examine the boards, the cappings are confined to a couple long strips from between several frames. The particles weren't located generally around on the board, and this is the first time I've seen this. My first thought was mouse droppings, but they appeared to be segmented in 3 or 4 segments. Then I considered eggs of some kind. Unfortunately, I cleaned off the boards and I didn't save them yesterday but did go out and take some photos and collect some today.
In the first photo, you see the dark specks on the tray. The rows are not clearly defined since I had just cleaned it.
This photo shows the size, between 2 and 3 mm. The object is sitting at the 5 cm mark.
This photo shows a view through our microscope at about 80 X power.
In this, you can see 3 segments, but it does not look as smooth and rounded on the ends as it looked with my unaided eye. I'm thinking droppings of some kind, probably roaches. If you look at this website page, you can scroll down and see some roach droppings. Seems very similar:
Post-note--A member of the Beesource.com forum suggested perhaps they are droppings from wax moth larvae. It might be possible, if the larvae emerged reicently from eggs, there are some occupying the lowest hive body, since most bees will be in the upper boxes. Unfortunately, the weather is not expected to get much above 40 degrees in the next 10 days so all I can really do is monitor the pullout tray and use a flashlight to look up into the hive for any signs of the larvae or webbing. Ironically, I'm hoping we have cockroaches!
This is a follow-up to my last post. Thanks to Barbara Beekeeper, whose blog I follow, I've now learned that the bad odor we experienced each of the past two autumns is not caused by the coincidental appearance of the wax worms but by one of the most abundant fall bloomers--goldenrod. When the goldenrod honey is curing in the hive, it gives off odors that can be quite strong and seemingly have a different effect on different people. After reading Barbara's account, I did a bit more research and found that a number of people mistake the odor for American Foul Brood, and tear their hives apart fearing to find the evidence that would indicate they needed to destroy their hives. Others liken the smell to smelly, wet socks (or feet), while others note the odor but don't find it unpleasant. In our experience, the odor is a sickly, sweet but sour smell, quite strong. Apparently, there are a number of varieties of goldenrod which could account for variance in the way peo…
In trying to decide how to go about removing the bees from the frames when we go to harvest the honey, we looked at options such as the fume board, brushing, blowing or shaking bees off the frames, or using a bee escape. We've chosen to try the last option. The fume boards work quickly, but we didn't like the thought of "fumigating" our bees or the honey. My experience with brushing bees off the frames has been that it does not make them very happy. I like to keep them happy. So we decided to go with the bee escape method.
There are a number of bee escapes available commercially and there are also plans for building a variety of bee escapes. Most of the commercial bee equipment outlets sell a simple bee escape that is oblong in shape and fits in the opening of a standard inner cover. It allows the bees to move from the honey super to the hive body below. These are quite inexpensive, costing only a couple dollars. You can also buy, from Dadant, a board which i…
Kathy and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Costa Rica. It was basically an eco-tour, arranged by a former classmate of mine who has retired from Iowa State University and has taken groups to Central America for more than a decade. We saw beautiful scenery, many wonderful birds, reptiles and mammals, ate terrific food and made new friends. It was a great time, and with the slow emergence of spring I'm wishing I were right back there!
One side trip we took was to a huge pineapple plantation. It was very interesting learning how they are planted, harvested and selected for either fresh pineapple, juice, or what have you. As we were enjoying our treats at the end of the tour, I noticed some small insects very busy, coming and going, at the base of a column that supported the open serving area. I looked closer, and noticed many small insects flying in and out of a small tube going into a crack.
My guess was they were some type of bee. Jim, my friend and our guide, wh…