Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Favorite Photos

It has been five years since I started keeping bees in my backyard and over that time I have taken A LOT of pictures of the bees.  I am no photographer, and the vast majority of those pictures have been missed shots, out of focus, or just plain uninteresting.  Every once in a while, though, I get one that works out really well.  I have shared many of those photos here on the blog.

I have decided to make a collection of some of my favorite photos and share them all together here.  I might have been lucky enough to get a cool looking shot and some of them might have some other meaning.  In any case, here thy are.
Bee on an apple blossom in our backyard

Bee on the broccoli blossom in our garden

Bee on a cantaloupe blossom in our garden

Bee on white Dutch clover blossom in our yard

Coming in for a landing on a pear blossom in the backyard

Three jars of honey after our first honey harvest

The first bit of honey out of the extractor during our first honey harvest

Drinking Bee

A single bee fanning the top entrance

The tops of the frames in a honey super at harvest time

I don't know- I just thought it was cool looking

Coming in to a hollyhock

Drawing comb on a new frame

Midwinter hives

Filling a frame with nectar- a little over half full

Bee on lilacs in the back yard

Orientation flights in front of the hive

More orientation flights

Bee on a pear blossom in the backyard

The bees finishing up a beautiful frame of honey

One of the hives swarmed and landed in the neighbors bushes

Bee on a Russian olive blossom

Queen bee- isn't she beautiful?

Queen cup.  I was just trying to show that it was empty, but it turned out to be a cool picture at a cool angle.

Bee on our pussy willow.  Beautiful pollen basket!

Bee on a backyard dandelion

Barely hanging on to a backyard apple blossom

Translucent bee.  One of my favorites!

I don't know why, but I have always liked this picture with the bees on the frame a little out of focus and the sun shining through the smoke from the smoker.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Bloom Dates

When I started keeping bees five years ago I really didn't know what I was doing and had a ton of questions.  One of the places I would go to ask those questions was to an online forum called Beesource.  The forum is full of beekeepers both old and new who ask questions and share their experiences.  I got a lot of good advice when I was first starting out but was also frustrated with some of the answers.  I would almost always get responses that ended with something like "That is what I would do in my location, but that might be completely opposite from what you should do in your location."

It is true that the timing of bee activity, when and which flowers they will visit, how much honey they might produce, etc. depends a lot on location.  Even here in Wyoming I could never get a straight answer about which blossoms would be available and when they would bloom.  Nectar flows start here in Lovell earlier than they start in Powell thirty miles away, and that is earlier than when the same nectar flows will start in Cody another twenty miles down the highway.

I came across a tool the other day that allows beekeepers to map their location and record bloom dates of various flowers.  This tool was just created last week by a fellow beekeeper who shared in on Beesource.  I wish this had been available five years ago.  It consists of a form (find it here) in which you can record location, bloom dates, and comments and a map (find it here) on which the information is plotted.  I have added the links to the group of links on the side bar.

Here is an image of what the map looks like today:
There are only a few entries that have been added so far.  I would love to see it fill up and see everybody's bloom dates around the world.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pussy Willow Bloom 2013

The pussy willow bloomed a few days ago on April 2nd.  This is always an exciting day as it is the first bloom of the year where I can actually see the bees working the blossoms.  They actually do start bringing in a pale yellow pollen a week or two before the pussy willow blooms, but I have never been able to figure out where it is coming from.

The pussy willow bloom also give me a good idea of when honey production will kick into high gear.  For the last three years at least, the alfalfa bloom has occurred seventy days after the pussy willow.  That should put this year's alfalfa bloom on June 11th.  Between now and then we will have the dandelion and fruit tree blooms- those will provide a little extra honey but not much.  Once the alfalfa starts up I will be checking the honey supers on a weekly basis.

Anyway- here are a few photos of the bees working the pussy willow in the back yard:

These last few photos show some of the native pollinators working the blossoms along side the honeybees:

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