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Notice Board . . .

So what happened to the bee plant survey? Actually, Miriam Valere, a beekeeper in Salt Lake City, has been working on it for quite some time. She is preparing a fact sheet for each plant, with photos and links to more information, which will be sortable to where you live. The survey provided a ton of information, and we are trying to make it as useful and logical as we can. Miriam has put untold hours into the project, and I am so grateful for her efforts. Look for it in the near future.

A song of the bees

Be prepared for a feel-good moment. I first met Mark Luterra and his partner, Liz, two years ago in Corvallis, Oregon. At the time, Mark took me through his apiary and prepared a list of beekeepers I should meet on my visit to the Willamette Valley. I could see Mark was intelligent and passionate about his work, but I was clueless about his hidden talents until this morning when I played this video.

Mark writes:

“We finally got around to finishing this project. It started as a song in February 2012, hoping that our first two beehives would make it through the winter (they didn’t…). The music video idea came in April 2013, and I did most of the video editing in the Denver airport. Then we moved, and the bees moved, and the project was mostly forgotten until now.”

I listened to his song four or fives times this morning and have been humming ever since. The lyrics are printed below, and if you would like to know more about Mark, he writes a blog called Musings from Mark that centers around nature, sustainability, energy, agriculture, and mead.

I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did. Let me know what you think!

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

A Song of the Bees

by Markael Luterra
Published on Jan 2, 2015

Lyrics:

Sing a song of the bees
Thousands as one
Led by a queen

Bees by the thousands they are workin together
Bringin nectar and pollen whatever the weather
Gotta keep the queen fed layin two eggs a minute
For the next generation, the sky’s the limit

Coevolution we see
Flowers and bees
Nectar for fertile seeds

We pop off the top to inspect the brood
White larvae and eggs mean that things are all good
We try to avoid the end with the stinger
But every now and then we still get stung on the finger
Stung on the finger!

Put some ice on that sting
Cool down the burn
Easing the suffering

Got varroa and nosema and now tracheal mites
Its a mess with all these pests we might just give up the fight
But no disease will kill my bees cause I take care of my hives
And through the winter into April they will still be alive
Still be alive
My bees are alive!

(Piano interlude)

In the summer they’ll be haulin in the honey like a beast
And then in August we’ll collect it and we’ll have a great feast
With lots of mead and pie and honeycomb and cookies too
And we’ll still have enough to give honey to you
Honey to you

(Flute interlude)

Sing a song of the bees
Thousands as one
Led by a queen
Coevolution we see
Flowers and bees
Nectar for fertile seeds.

The crocuses are popping

Last fall, after reading my post about planting spring crocuses for bees, David Robertson of western Georgia nearly bought out the local feed store. He took the corms home and, judging from the photos, made his wife and son-in-law do the work while he took pictures. Makes sense.

Now, in mid-January, the crocuses are already popping through the soil and the honey bees are ready. I thought you might enjoy the photos—a sure reminder that spring is coming. And Dave, don’t forget that next time we want to see those flowers with the bees inside.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Robertson-crocus-planting-467
Planting the crocuses on the sunny side of the barn. © David Robertson.
Robertson-crocus-growing-650
The leaves are already a few inches tall. © David Robertson.
Robertson-apiary-524
David’s apiary. © David Robertson.
Robertson-thinking-about-crocus-650
The honey bees are restless just thinking about all those crocuses. © David Robertson.

 

How do honey bees keep their hive warm?

Honey bees do not heat their hives the way we heat our homes. Instead, they concentrate on keeping the cluster warm by vibrating their flight muscles. The center of the cluster is the warmest part of the hive, and the temperature drops as you move out from the center.

The interior of the hive is warmer than the outside air because heat escapes from the cluster and the hive itself offers a small amount of insulation. But the bees do not attempt to keep the entire space warm. In fact, the air inside the hive can be quite cold.

Because hot air rises, the warmest place outside of the cluster is right above the cluster. A beekeeper can help keep the hive slightly warmer by placing insulation above the cluster to capture some of this escaping heat.

Bill’s hive temperature experiment

In order to help explain this phenomenon to new beekeepers, Bill Reynolds of Minnesota decided to monitor the temperature inside his hives as the colonies plunged into winter. According to Bill, he purchased an inexpensive desktop weather forecasting station with three remote wireless sensors for his project. He used a fourth sensor to monitor the ambient outside air.

The weather cooperated for his experiment. Bill says, “Here in Minnesota we are experiencing bone-chilling temps around zero each morning and mid-twenties, if we are lucky, by noon.”

Bill set up three hives, each with three deeps topped with a quilt box. One hive contained a colony of Carniolans, one a colony of mutts, and one was empty. In each hive he centered the sensor over the third deep but under the quilt box. He did not attempt to place the sensors at the core of the clusters. During the measurement period, the clusters were two deep hive bodies below the sensors.

The hives were not wrapped. All three setups were on the south side of a house with a straw-bale wall blocking northwest winds. According to Bill, “Other than the sensors, there is nothing different between these hives and any other hive one would find in a backyard.”

Partway through the experiment, Bill began recording separate readings for the outside air and empty hive. He made this change because he noticed that the temperatures increased and decreased at different rates inside the empty hive and outside of it. It became apparent that the wooden boxes themselves influenced temperature fluctuations.

Warmer inside, but only slightly

The graph below shows temperature readings for each sensor. It is quite clear from this simple experiment that temperatures inside the active hives rose and fell with the outside temperature, but overall the inside remained warmer than the outside. But far from being cozy, the inside temperatures dropped down into the 30s on the coldest days. It is interesting to see that the two colonies were very consistent with each other, rising and falling in tandem.

It also became clear that the interior of the empty hive box was somwhat warmer than the outside air. I suspect a combination of sun and minimum air movement through the boxes increased the temperature slightly.

Thank you, Bill, for your experiment and awesome graph. Nicely done!

*Ambient Weather WS-10 Wireless Indoor/Outdoor 8-Channel Thermo-Hygrometer with Three Remote Sensors

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Graph showing the temperatures inside the three hives, and beginning November 15, outside the hives.
Graph showing the temperatures inside the three hives, and beginning November 15, outside the hives. © Bill Reynolds.
The two populated hives in a warmer time. © Bill Reynolds.
The two populated hives in a warmer time. © Bill Reynolds.

*This post contains an affiliate link.