Saturday, November 10, 2012

What Are These Bees?

I was looking into stories about the loss of the Brooklyn Grange's apiary, destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, when I came upon this story about bees in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in 2011.  (Feral Bees)
Aside from coloration, the long, extended abdomens really make them look more like queen bees.  Is this typical of feral bees?  Does the photo just distort their shape?  Can anyone explain what they are?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Second Harvest!

     A bit less than two weeks ago, I treated hive #2 for mites and checked the progress on the honey in the one remaining super.  Though they had been filling out cells pretty well, few were capped, so I placed it on top of the hive for them to take back into the hive and clean them up.  In hive #1, on which I still had two medium supers, I thought it was a good possibility they might finish capping at least some of the frames, since many had one side capped and at least part of the other.  So I left them. 
    Today, knowing I would be pretty busy this weekend and then leaving early next week, when it is to turn cool and rainy anyway, I decided I had better pull the supers off the hives and treat hive #1 for mites.  I had decided that I might be able to get a few frames to process and the rest I would split between feeding back to the bees and making some mead.
     To our surprise, after we treated the bees and took a look at the two supers on #1, we found all frames were better than 90% full and capped, if not 100%.  I knew the bees had been busy on the buckwheat and goldenrod, but with the higher humidity the past week I didn't really think they would be able to dry it out enough to cap it.  They have been bearding tremendously on that hive, which has just grown hugely in population.  We spun out 17 medium frames, getting what looks to be a solid 4 gallons.  There is still a huge pile of wax from which we will press even more honey before processing the wax. 
     Strangely, even though I put the frames above the inner cover on hive #2, they did not clean any of that up but instead I think continued to fill cells and cap some of it.  My mistake may have been leaving the cutout  on the inner cover in the up position, allowing direct entrance into the super.  I reversed it and left the super on, so maybe they will get the hint and start consuming some of it.
     I had thought the honey might be a bit darker, from the late season flowers, but it seems to be only a bit darker than the summer clover honey.  A side by side comparison may show a greater difference.  At any rate, we were very pleasantly surprised with a second harvest.  This takes us to over 10 gallons for the season from two hives, with the vast majority coming just from hive #1, which was queenless early in the summer.  I guess they more than made up for it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Honey Day

Finally got a wonderful break in the weather, with temps only in the upper 70's and DRY (the humidity, here--we still could use some rain though we got just under an inch when the cold front noisily passed through, taking out a number of trees and limbs in the area.)

As I indicated earlier, we knew we were going to have a good honey season, with all the white clover this year.  I'll go through the process the way we do it.
We work in our "barn", where we can keep the bees out and have plenty of room to make a mess if need be.  Here we have a bowl of water, our uncapping tray, the 5 gallon filtering pail beyond and then the old A.I. Root Extractor in the background.
Here are a few of the nice frames of honey we have this year.  Today we extracted 19 frames. Here you see Kathy uncapping the frame with an electric knife.  She likes to use that--I can't handle it.   Give me a long, serrated bread knife anytime.  We don't have a heated uncapping knife.  We feel we can do what we have with what we have pretty effectively.  Perhaps if we had a bigger job to do we'd invest in a heated knife.  Maybe not.  Note the unorthodox pick we use for those stray cells that don't get opened from the knife.  It's an old ice pick but works great.

Here are some of the cappings.  After we squeeze all the possible honey out, this will become some nice beeswax to go in our molds.
After Kathy removes the cappings, I put two frames in the extractor.  It has a 4 to 1 ratio.  I crank about 75 turns, flip the trays to the opposite side and crank again.  It works pretty well and the frames come out in decent shape, with most of the cells pretty intact.
Looking down inside the extractor.  A cage on each side holds a frame.        

After extracting the honey from the frames, we pour the honey into our 5 gallon filtering pail.  It has two fine filters, so only the honey flows through.  No wax, bug parts or anything else.  It was only about 80 degrees so it moved fairly slowly through the filters. 
After going through the filters, Kathy puts the honey into half-gallon jars, to be split into smaller containers later after bubbles have all risen and the honey clears.  It seems slightly darker this year compared with last, but still as sweet.
Over 5 and a half gallons.  Not too shabby for a drought year I'd say. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ok--I'm Confused

Sorry, no pictures, but my plan was to simply go out and pull off a honey super, brush what bees were still on the frames and bring them in to extract this weekend.

This was the hive that, on July 9th, had no apparent queen.  I had decided I would let them finish curing their honey, take what we wanted, then deal with the queen situation.  I did put a frame of young larva in at that time but haven't really been in the hive since, other than to set the bee escape under the supers two days ago.

To my surprise, as I was pulling frames out  of the honey super, the third frame was full of capped brood.  Not just a random smattering, but a good pattern with a solid middle section of worker brood.  Needless to say, I was pretty dumbfounded.  Even had I accidentally put the frame with young larva in the honey super, the time frame just doesn't quite add up to produce that much brood.  There was brood on the next frame as well and some on the one after that.  I did find the queen, though she really seemed small to me.  I put her frame back in the brood box, with the honey supers back on top.  there are still some capped brood there, above the queen excluder, but I'll just deal with that later.

All I can figure is that somehow I must have accidentally put one of the boxes from the brood section above the queen excluder.  Perhaps my box of honey is still in the hive, down below.  I have no clue, and won't have time to go back in and investigate until sometime next week.  It's been so hot that even getting out early to work with them, I'm soaking in just a few minutes.

Anyway, I did get a couple good frames from the hive, with clean, white wax and light, clear honey. Last year we got 3 gallons finished.  We should get at least 4 this year I think.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Honey Time

Honey time has arrived here early, at least from the perspective our somewhat limited experience.  This will be our third year of honey harvest, and the very earliest we have extracted honey.  The past two years, it has been the end of August/beginning of September when we harvested.  I could have taken honey several weeks ago, actually.  Most was capped and ready to go.

Kathy and I pulled two medium supers off the first hive this morning.  It amounts to roughly 75 pounds, counting the weight of the frames.  I had the bee escape on and it worked fairly well.  We still had to brush off some bees but brushing gently didn't seem to bother them much.  We put the bee escape on hive #2.  We'll pull probably 8 frames off that hive.  Since they are likely still queenless, their numbers have declined and they haven't been able to produce as much.
Here are a few of the 1 frames we took this morning.  Though these two have a couple blemishes, most frames were simply gorgeous, completely filled out with sweet, mellow clover honey.  Since the buckwheat we planted is blooming and the bees are on it, as well as goldenrod and other fall flowers, we still may get a frame or two this summer yet.

We plan to extract this weekend, since the high on Sunday is only supposed to be 84.  If we start early, we should be out of the barn before the temps climb too high.  It can get pretty warm out there on a summer's day.  I plan to take a lot of photos of the process this year and will post those sometime next week.

Last night, as I was working on my boat out by the barn, I noticed a lot of bees flying around the little nuc I have been trying to start.  I thought that was a little odd, since the numbers have been going down since we have been unable to get a queen started there.  In no time, there was  quite a cloud of bees flying around, and I decided a bee from my other hives discovered this treasure and a full blown robbery was taking place.  My neighbor boy came over after awhile and asked if I had seen all the bees flying around.  I told him what was happening, and so moved that hive out back by the orchard this morning before pulling honey frames.  It's been fun to watch them up by the house but I think I'd better keep them out back in the future.
There were many,  many more bees in the air than shown in this photo.  It was pretty frenzied.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Honey Bound

It's been too damn hot to even think of opening the hives until the heat broke Sunday.  I've been anxious to open up the hives and see what is going on, especially after reading this post from Jim, in Stillwater, Minnesota, from his blog What Should I Be Doing With My Bees This Month?
I wanted to make sure my bees weren't showing the same type of crud he has been experiencing.  Kathy has been concerned about hive #2, since they just weren't showing the type of activity (i.e. bearding in masses) we were seeing at the other hive.  I also wanted to see what kind of progress they're making with the honey, and additionally take a frame of young larva to put again into the nuc to try to get a queen going there.
Seeing some heavy bearding lately (hive #1)

That was the plan, anyway.  First, the local weatherman (do they collect their paychecks without guilt or remorse???) blew it again.  According to his forecast, it  was supposed to be very mild, with highs in the afternoon only in the low 80's.  Of course, it made it into the low 90's, unbeknownst to me, with most of that heat gain occurring while I'm trying to work with about 60,000 bees wearing my bee outfit.  I should have taken off my glasses before working, since sweat was soon almost totally obscuring my vision. 

I started with hive #2, the one we were concerned about, and soon discovered that not only were they filling out both medium supers quite nicely, they were also packing nectar into every available space in the brood section.  My queen, which was laying so nicely in early June, was nowhere to be seen and there was no evidence of even any capped brood.  No queen, or else she was laying back taking it easy.  So, I pulled a couple of frames that were in poor shape and put in a couple frames with foundation, leaving a space for a frame from the other hive.  One bee got me on the front of my right ankle, through the sock.  I tuck my cuffs into my socks but she got me anyway.  As usual, I first notice a slow but soon becoming more intense warmth in the area, followed by some brief aching.  Nothing like accidentally brushing up against my solar electric fence.

Hive #1 was also doing well in the honey dept.  I could barely lift the super just above the queen excluder off the hive.  Nothing to do with those frames except cure the honey and cap it.  Looking into the top of the brood boxes, I did see nice capped brood and some very young larva, at only maybe 4 or 5 days (one or two days after hatching).  I took a good frame from this hive and put it in the other.  I picked up my second sting of the day, this time on the back of my left ankles. These girls have an ankle fetish!

I put the hives back together.  I definitely need to put a third super on hive #1 but I need to put some frames together tomorrow.  My plan is to see if they can make a queen from the frame I gave them.  If not, I'll either split them after we take the honey in August or September or, if the numbers are down too far in #2, just do a combine for the winter and then split in the spring.  I'll probably just order two new queens then.  Unless one queen is doing well, them maybe do a split.  We'll see.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June and things are growing

I decided to take a peek at the new hive we're trying to get started.  I put a frame with eggs and larva in on  May 23rd, so I thought a queen might have emerged.  Last time I checked, last Monday, I thought I found a queen cell though the bees continued to cover it so much I couldn't really be sure.  Today there was clearly a queen cell at the top of frame #3.
It has been 17 days, so I'd think she would be coming out very soon.  I'll check back mid-week next week.
The clover is slowly getting past its prime.  There has been a lot of it and the bees have definitely been working it.  I also found some bees on our blossoming cilantro, but more often the little dark bee in the photo below.
Not the best photo, for sure.  Probably a type of mason bee?
The bees are doing well, but other things are looking good here in Iowa in June.  It's been quite dry, but we're heading into a great berry season nonetheless.  The black raspberries should be plentiful, though we're still learning how to trim them properly to get larger, juicier berries.  We'll continue to get a bigger harvest from our wild ones along the edge of the woods.

The reds are also loaded, but we'll have to contend with the Japanese beetles, just emerging (shown here on the underside of a leaf).  They will not only eat the foliage but will also go after the fruit, in huge numbers.  They're really a problem.
Blueberries and grapes are also looking good.  Grapes initially were affected by a late frost but are now looking good.  Blueberries were not affected.

 Kathy's garden is also in good early season shape.  We've already had a lot of lettuce and cabbage.   Here are her tomatoes.
So, that's a little tour of some of what's growing here.  We'll be busy picking quite a few berries in the next several weeks.  Mmmmmmmm, black raspberry pie!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Early June Inspection

I first checked the nuc today to see if there was any sign yet of a queen cell from the frames I put in on May 23rd.  There clearly seems to be at least one queen cell, which would be approximately two weeks old.  It is in the photo below, but a little group of nurse bees kept covering it, lending credence to the likelihood that it contains a queen.

I contemplated adding another frame from one of the other hives, but I think I'll do a wait-and-see here.

I checked hive #2, the stronger of the other hives, to see how they had progressed during our week away to northern Minnesota.  I had anticipated possibly needing to add a second super.  The bees have been building comb and adding some nectar but no frames full of honey yet.  I looked deeper into the hive and found the top hive body (of 3) is almost totally full of honey, most capped.  It's quite heavy.  I began to be worried that the hive was getting honeybound, so looked deeper.  The middle box has a lot of ugly frames, and I need to do some work in there sometime after the honey flow, but I did find a couple frames filled with capped worker cells, so I'm not as concerned about that.  I think they have just been filling up the top hive body and hopefully next will move on up and work hard on the honey super.  Clover is still going very strong, and we have a lot of it on our 3 acres plus the large horse pasture behind us.

Hive #1 also has done little on the super, but the number of bees there has really increased.  I didn't bother them a lot.

Hive #2  A lot of bees, hasn't swarmed to my knowledge.

While in N. Minnesota, Hackensack to be specific, we stopped in at Mann Lake.  I bought two hive bodies and 20 frames.  I just felt I needed to have a little extra on hand in case we needed to do a split or something.  Always enjoy stopping there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No Queen in the New Hive

I checked yesterday to see if the presumptive new queen was busy laying.  I found two frames full of bees on both sides.  The bees had been filling cells with nectar, which they were busily gulping down thanks to the smoke.

Both queen cells, which had been capped, were empty but there was no sign anywhere of a queen.  Am I wrong in thinking that it they should be done with mating flights by now, at least a week since they emerged from their cells?  Did they both succumb in a fight?  Did the remaining queen fail to survive her mating flights?  Another question came to mind.  The bees will try to make a queen if they discover they are queenless if available young brood is present.  Are they always successful in determining if the larva is sufficiently young enough to be a viable queen candidate?  In other words, can they go through the process of continuing with the royal jelly,  constructing the queen cell and capping that only to have an ordinary worker bee emerge at the end?  I have no idea, and perhaps someone knows this answer.
At any rate, I added a couple more frames.  There was definitely some very young brood in at least one of the frames, so we'll see if this one works. 
I decided to go ahead and look in both of the other hives since the smoker was going.  Those queens have been laying like crazy.  There were many frames very full of brood.  They have also been putting in a lot of honey in hive #2, which is good since they had come out of winter pretty light.  Much is already capped.  I did not check the super I had put on that hive last week but I'm feeling, with the clover going strong, that I had better add a second.  They can at least build out comb on that one.  Hive #1 also had a ton of capped brood and was looking to start growing quickly in numbers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Good looking nuc

Our medium on top of Jim's new large body and bottom board.
I checked our little 5 frame nuc yesterday.  It was full of bees.  There were two queen cells hanging side by side, both capped.  By my calculations, they should emerge today or tomorrow.  I decided since they hadn't emerged yet, I would go ahead and expand the hive.  I placed the five frames in a 9 frame super, setting it on top of a friend's new 10 frame large hive body.  Once the queen gets established and begins laying, he can take this setup to his land.  He may or may not take the queen.  If he decides he wants her, I'll start another in a nuc.  I've decided we need to keep a backup.  Last year, with both hives failing, it was a scramble to get them queened.
Since this one is right outside our barn, I'll keep an eye on it.  If I'm lucky, I'll see a queen take off on a mating flight!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Laying Queen Confirmed

Last week we found the queen in hive #1 but no sign of larva yet.  I opened again today and there are already capped worker cells and plenty of larva.  Sorry about the blurry picture, I was trying to take the photo with a glove on and must have moved.  So, I put it back together and they are ready to go. 
I also checked the little nuc I had put a frame in last week and found two supercedure cells with larva in them, though not capped yet.  So they will be making a queen as well, which I'll likely give to a friend who lost his bees and wants to start up again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Both hives are queenright!  We inspected both today and found the queen in each right away.  The brand new queen did not seem to be laying yet, though there could be some eggs.  After finding her, my main objective, I didn't want to disturb the hive even more so closed it right up.  I'll check again in 6 or 7 days.  By then, we should easily find some larva at least.
The other queen, in hive #2, was still in the top box, middle rows of frames.  I set her aside and pulled the frame she was just on, along with several others, and started up a nuc.  Hopefully this will work this time to have them rear another queen.  All the bees died from the first nuc, including some frames that were fully capped but the bees never emerged.  I think it had just been too cold, and the little nuc couldn't stay warm enough.  Maybe we'll be lucky this time, with the temps forecast to be in the 70's pretty much all week.

At least this frame will get put to use.  I have to give a talk on Friday for a friend who teaches a class at the university on technology in daily life in ancient Greece and Rome.  I'm talking about my wine making and beekeeping, so I'll take this frame in and use it with my talk.  That's a bottle of sour cherry and a bottle of white wine sitting on the floor by the frames.  Both have our "Grumpy Bee" label!
One thing in the talk I will mention is the swarm we had last year, just one week shy of being a full year ago.  The number of bees in hive #2, and their behavior, indicates to me a swarm just may be in the offing again.  Maybe pulling a thousand or so bees, about 5 frames, and putting on a super will help prevent that.  Likely, not.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Queen cell--maybe

I spotted what looks to be a queen cell in hive #1 today, so possibly they are making a queen after all.  One cell was on the middle of a frame, with the opening pointing down and a larva in it, attended by a couple bees. I did put a frame with young larva in from hive #2 and will try to do so once a week for a couple weeks.  There were a lot of capped cells and young larva in #1, so the queen must be alive and well.  Since there would still be some larva after one week, there should not be any next week if the queen is absent.
I also checked on the nuc.  No sign of a queen cell there though there is still some uncapped larva.  I'll wait and see on that.
Little 4 frame nuc

Monday, March 26, 2012

Good, Bad News

Sorry no photos--I was working mostly by myself and had a lot to do so I didn't take anything.
It was 72 degrees and has been nice for at least a week, so after coming back from a trip out east I decided I needed to get in and see what was going on as well as add mite strips.
Bad news first.  Hive #1 seemingly has no queen.  In the top of 3 boxes, I found scattered drone cells along the bottom of several frames.  No queen in sight.  There were a few in the box below as well.  There were still several frames of honey and bees were bringing in lots of pollen and even filling some cells with nectar.  The number of bees was adequate.  They still had not touched the pollen patties.  I removed a couple old frames, rotated the boxes, put on the medication strips and closed it up. 

Hive #2 was very healthy with most of the pollen patty gone, good brood patterns and a lot of capped and uncapped larva.  I found the queen pretty easily in the middle box.  I set that frame aside in a safe location and looked to find some good frames to start a nuc with.  My plan is to go ahead and let them raise a queen and keep a nuc going since I really seem to have trouble keeping queens.  The missing queen in #1 was the one we bought last summer, a Minnesota Hygenic.  The one we reared in #2 is still going strong. 

When I picked up the frame with the queen on it again, she scampered around the corner of the frame.  I turned it over and looked but could not find her.  I looked for quite awhile.  I was holding the frame over a hive body, so if she dropped off I hope she dropped into that box.  I never did see her again.  My plan is to open that hive up again later next week.  If anything has happened to her, there won't be any larva in the hive.  If things are ok, I'll take hive #1 and dump all the bees out away from the hive, to get rid of laying workers, put in some frames with eggs/larva and have them raise their own queen.  If that fails, hopefully I'll have a queen from the nuc to use.

Monday, March 12, 2012

First Inspection of the Year

     Starting tomorrow, our temps will be above 70 degrees for at least a week.  Incredible.  My plans are to do an inspection of each hive, probably Wednesday.  I'll check for the presence of laying queens in each hive, treat for mites with the mite-away strips from Mann Lake, and generally clean them up, including removal of the styrofoam insulation from winter.  I'll give a summary here later in the week on what I find.
     Our plan is to do splits, providing I have laying queens and sufficient bees.  A friend lost his bees last year and would like to start them again.  Hopefully we can do that.
     A couple weeks ago, I finished our barn quilt and put it in place.  I had hoped to put it above the window on the end of the barn, but there just wasn't enough space.  It still looks fine here.  I chose the colors because they represent the colors of the Iowa Hawkeyes, and the hexagon design to represent the bees.  It's funny, but when a large group of hawkeye fans gathers together, decked out in their black and gold, they're often referred to as "bumble bees".
     Barn quilts have become quite popular in Iowa.  Some counties have posted web sites showing off some of their artwork.  Here are a few examples:




     And, of course, here is ours:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why do you keep bees?

     As we enter our fourth year of beekeeping, I've been thinking about why we began in the first place.  In the fall of 2007, I think it was, Kathy suggested we attend a session at a local county park on the subject of beekeeping.  We got to see and touch some of the basic pieces of equipment and paraphernalia that is part of the whole process and learned a bit about the biology of the European honey bee, its life cycle and social structure.  A bit fascinated, we decided to go into it a bit further and signed up for a year-long course, meeting roughly once a month, in which we would learn the basics of beekeeping, order and install our bees and follow them through the first season, including extraction of honey (from the nature center's bees since ours wouldn't likely be producing the first season.)
     At the first meeting, we were asked by the instructor why we were interested in pursuing this endeavor.  I responded that we were primarily interested in having bees to help with pollination of our garden, our many fruit trees and bushes as well as our vineyard, with getting our own honey a secondary reason.
     Though we've had the little vineyard for some time, I didn't even realize that the grape flowers are primarily pollinated via the wind, not honey bees.  The flowers are simply too little.  However, we had read that fruit trees, in particular, have much more successful pollination and the fruit produced by pollination from bees is superior to that produced by other species and methods.  (I've since learned that is also quite debatable.  One thing I have come to learn as I've grown older is that practically everything I once learned and thought to be solid, basic fact is today up for debate.  Some things, in fact, have even come full circle, having gone through various cycles of doubt and validation.  Take beekeeping, for example:  ask 10 beekeepers if you should feed bees and you'll get 10 different answers. Take your pick.)
     Today, four years later, my reasons for keeping bees have changed.  I have been very surprised to see very few of our honey bees on our fruit trees in the spring, for example, and the same holds true for many items in our garden.  My blueberries are pollinated primarily by other smaller, native bees and bumblebees.  We see some on our strawberries and raspberries but also see many other types of bees.  We never see them on our tomato plants (30+ plants each season) or peppers.  Squash bees by far dominate any of the squash/pumpkin/zucchini etc. type plant.  So, having them for pollination purposes hasn't seemed to be a great benefit.  Honey production the past two years has been pretty good, though mostly from our first hive. We have enjoyed that, not only for ourselves but having extra to give to friends and relatives (funny we mention those groups as though they are exclusive of one another...)

     I have simply found the bees to be very fascinating, an endless source of education and entertainment.  I love to sit out back on a warm summer afternoon and watch them come and go, watch the new bees circle about as they orient themselves, and watch them carrying in huge loads of pollen.  I enjoy showing them off to visitors and talking about them, though I'm aware that one can go on and on about their bees and you have to be careful to only do so if your audience is truly interested and asking questions.  It's those times that I realize how much I truly enjoy beekeeping--when I've discovered how much we have learned and how much there is yet to learn.
     How about you?  Why do you keep bees or would like to do so?  To help with pollination?  To get honey, beeswax and other bee by-products?  To raise bees because you've heard all about the great loss of honey bees due to CCD or whatever?  Please share your thoughts.  I'd like to hear them.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Feeding Time

February 17th, and another of a string of nice days.  Temperatures today reached the upper 40's.  We ordered some pollen patties and today seemed like a good day to apply them.
Bees were flying at both hives when we went out to check on them.  Popping the lids, we found quite a few bees above the inner cover, particularly on hive #1, and many more bees on top of the frames in the top box.  I minimized the time the bees were exposed to the air and gently placed the patties on top of the frames.  I had to adjust my first placement, since it was directly in the middle so when I put the inner cover on, the oval slot was completely blocked.
Bees looked healthy.  No sign of nosema and the number of mites on each pull-out tray was very minimal.  In fact, I had trouble seeing any at all.  Crumbs from wax cappings indicated bees have been feeding on honey.
It will be interesting to see how quickly they consume the patties.  I'll try to check in about 2 weeks.
To see a short video of today's work, watch Adding Pollen .

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm a buzzin', Mon

We just returned from a weeklong getaway to Grand Cayman.  While gone, we missed some "almost" Caribbean-type weather here in Iowa, where temps reached over 60 degrees!  Still, it was a bit warmer there (pretty much 81 degrees every day). 
While sitting out on the patio of our nice apt. (that's Kathy in the hat), we noticed honeybees flying around the palms.  Dumbly, though I had the camera with me on several occasions, I failed to take a picture.  They were all over the little blossoms that eventually turn into coconuts.  We saw them everywhere we went on the island, so I began to wonder if there are many beekeepers there.  After just a little research on google, I found this link to a blog entry about Otto Watler, a native Caymanian beekeeper.  I think you might find it interesting.  He sounds like a busy, creative guy.  Hopefully he is still tending his gardens, and I wish we had known about him earlier.
Aside from the coconut palms, we saw bees on a number of plants.  Below is a sampling of some of the gorgeous blooming plants we found.  I did not see any bumblebees though I think I did spot some smaller pollinators. It really seemed the honeybees were in the vast majority, though.  It's a shame, given the relative poverty of the island, that more do not try to at least supplement income by keeping bees.  It may be that more do than I'm aware of.

Whoops, I think this guy might eat honeybees--and fingers, toes...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Record High

Just a quick note: sixty-one degrees (16 degrees C) on January 5th--shattering the old record of 54 degrees (12 C)! Of course, the bees were really flying from both hives. It is expected to be warm again today, though not quite as warm but above average temps for the next week. The "normal" average temperature for this time of year is about 11 degrees F (-12 C). Again, this probably means they will be consuming their stores even more than during colder winters, so I will really have to look at early spring feeding.