Archive | May, 2011

What is the White Bee Disease?

22 May

Like ghosts, a few drones such as this one limped eerily through our hive last week. It’s a hive hosted at City of Albuquerque Open Space near the Rio Grande and we suspect deformed wing virus transmitted by varroa but aren’t quite sure.

White Drone: Symptom of Deformed Wing Virus?

White Drone: Symptom of Deformed Wing Virus?

  • Yes, there’s a deformed wing.
  • Yes, we saw a few varroa on drones in the hives.
  • But I can’t find a description in our bee books of the “whitening” of live bees.
Can anyone offer further insight?

Attila the Hun of the Honeycomb

17 May

Witness the “Bee Song” by Zach Sherwin aka MC Mr. Napkins at The Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival 2010.

Albuquerque Journal, eaten by bees

10 May

One way I like to bolster a hive throughout the season is to combine it with a small swarm or other weak hive. It’s the lazy girl’s guide to solving common problems like uniting a queenless hive with a queenright hive or combining a couple small swarms into one strong colony.

Day 1: Combine hives separated by 1 layer of newspaper

Day 1: Combine hives separated by 1 layer of newspaper

Day 3: Hives have chewed through the paper and combined, hopefully painlessly.

Day 3: Hives have chewed through the paper and combined, hopefully painlessly.

Newspaper Method of Combining Bees

  1. Take a small hive and remove the hive cover and inner cover.
  2. Place a piece or two of newspaper atop the frames in the top box. Cut a slit or two in the paper (optional).
  3. On top of this, add a box with your new colony or swarm.
  4. Close ‘er up and wait a couple days.
  5. OPTIONAL: Sometimes I leave a top entrance for the top box. Othertimes I don’t. Depends on the strength of that hive and how hot temperatures are projected to be.
Read other descriptions of the process at:

Bee Fanning Behavior: A honey-soaked evening

7 May

At night, because the bees are fanning, my whole yard smells of honey.

It’s a monster hive, 6 deeps and 1 medium, and full of ripening honey. Despite our drought, my city bees have access to the well-watered trees of the neighborhood and the University of New Mexico and it’s clear they’re taking full advantage of their good fortune.

bee hive at night

The monster hive at night

Why do bees fan?

Honey bees fan the hive for several reasons. Knowing what they’re up to depends on the location of their bums:

  • Bums facing out with the tip exposed, the girls are typically sending a “homing signal” by revealing their Nasonov glands. This is done during swarming or orientation flights at a new hive. Here’s what Nasonov fanning looks like.
  • Bums facing in or out with no tip exposed, the girls are fanning to:
    1. create ventilation inside a busy hive
    2. evaporate water from nectar until it contains less than 18% water and can be safely stored forever as honey
    3. both of the above

What does fanning behavior look like?

John Pluta from Georgia captures the stance of a fanning bee on video.