Posted by Rob Keller on February 09, 2013 at 07:29 PM in Airstream 67 Overlander, Bee Class, Bee Feral, Bee Fun, Bee Gear, Bee How To, Bee Meta, Bee Theory, Bee Think, Books, Clients, Hive Management, Mobile Bee Observatory, St. Helena Montessori Bee Class, Tips From the Hive - Nimbus Bee Blog, VW 61 Splitty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
I know, I know, you're thinking "yeah-yeah-yeah - the busiest guy, right..." but really, the last few weeks and the next few weeks are going to be, and have been, complete bee mayhem. Toutsweet, Chez Panisse, Connolly Ranch, and the Heirloom Expo. I'm not sure if any of you out there attended the Open Restaurant event at BAM last weekend, if not, hurt yourselves 'cause you missed one hella celebration. In conjunction with Chez Panisse's 40th birthday and the unveiling of the Alice Waters portrait headed to the National Portrait Gallery, Open put on an amazing event at Berkeley Art Museum.
I feel completely humbled by all of the other vendors that were invited to participate in the celebration.
Everyone there was absolutely tight on what they did and I was utterly fascinated with them all. I didn't even get to every one of them, but the ones I saw blew me away. The Edible Schoolyard peeps were grinding wheat with a bike-powered grinder, Digger Bread was baking loaves of bread in tin cans, and Urban Gardens was pickling it up big time! It was hard for me to stay put pimping bees at our base camp with all the other great stuff going on. Thank goodness Michael, Jim Cummesky, and even Neighbor Dave were there to man the 0-hive.
We met bread baker Chris who I'm sure we'll hook-up with again someday. The tin can bread loafs they made were incredible, and not just because they used our honey in them! They told me they busted out over 200 loafs.
We were even invited to be in the procession that walked right by Alice after they unveiled her portrait. I was all caught up in the moment and I walked right past, but Michael was on her like veggie velcro.This is an image I made as we went over the walk-way.
I met the cobbler who made these amazing shoes out of pig skin. It had something to do with Werner Herzog living up to his promise that he would eat his shoe if Errol Morris ever completed the film Heavens Gates . I don't know a whole lot about what went down with the bet, but I do know a lot about Bubbling Well, the pet cemetary Morris made the documentary about. Ask me later...
Everyone was using my honey
I think that is Steve Sullivan from Acme Bread mixing our sweet amber love into his bread dough.
Awesome Stacey. The bees turned out to be a major ordeal for her, we originally wanted to have the mobile observatory down there, but opted for plan bee using the 0-hive from the trailer with the Splitty as a back drop.
Bee day II - 3/27/10
Met with John early to discuss the bees I'm keeping at his Carneros
place. We mostly talked about art and drank coffee while Davis
ransacked their toy cabinet. However, I did give him some of the honey
from the bees that is absolutely amazing. On the Bonick Family Farm the
bees first get eucalyptus in early February, then the organic Asian
pears come into bloom, and lastly the blackberry bloom under the
eucalyptus canopy -- a feast!
* Met with Roger to look into the hives I am managing for him. One of his hives kind of circled the drain this winter so I married a colony of mine from a fan division I did last week. The teak hives look gorgeous, even after going through a wet winter. The observation hive is also just busting -- it's wonderful to be able to see into the life of the bees without opening the lid. I love that hive!
* Got a call from my sister-in-law KT. She lives in Oakland and was having an early Easter party when a swarm arrived. It appears the bees are moving into a PG&E box on the ground,,, how random is that? Curious, because both my wife and son were at the party too. I'm not assuming the bees knew that and were there looking for me..
While at Roger's I got a call from a lady named Anette who was doing
the Good Sam bee thing and looking after a swarm across town. I guess
she called Luke who refereed me. Super excited because I have been watching the
oak trees this swarm came from for about 5 years now. Patience will be rewarded, or...something like that...!
I got a call from Susan, her bees swarmed earlier today. I went by her
place thinking we would dive into her colony and harvest some of the
queen cells but got there a little late. Plus, her colony is so
monsterous we'd probably be at it for hours. So we went for a walk
around her block and happened to find an abandoned house with a
feral colony living in the walls.
Hew-weee! Now that's some honey.
Johnny checking out his yum yum - Oh, incidentally, the back lit honey photo was MY idea.
Crazy mustard out there at the Carneros apiary.
Edward Emery's hive drawing after a winter.
Roger's teak hives
Roger's bees. You don't see many in this image but they're loaded with varroa
My favorite - the observation hive
I love how the rusted metal compliments the wood
and you can see inside...
My car - Annette's bike
The Bees left this hole in the oak tree.
The bees ended up on this sign where the road splits on Trower about 15' away from their mother hive.
They looked like this when I left.
Annette is a sweet as honey, but I'm not getting her shirt..?
Forest and Annette
Me and Susan in her gazing ball
Susan's monster hive
The abandon building with the bees
Perfect bee house
Okay, here's the deal. My intention was to chronicle each day's beekeeping adventure, but here I am 3 days later. So,
I'm not getting off to a great start since I still haven't posted from
yesterday-- oops, make that two days ago. Working in flashback, here's
what's going on..
* Met with Michael after dropping our kids at the Waldy School -- discussed trading bee work in exchange for Davis going to Spring and Summer camp at Connolly (flash forward to today when he actually was at the camp, when he got in trouble one time during the day and my wife was late for pickup -- good exchange).
* Received a call from Anita on White Hall lane about a swarm, her husband Dave was a great help.
* Went by a "trap out" I am working on, also on White Hall Lane in Saint Helena.
* Cleaned out the bee stuff in the back of my truck.
* Hived the swarm from White Hall lane.
* Met Nate regarding bees he has had on the property he manages. The bees have been there roughly 6 years now. They look really good considering they have not been managed in years. The weird thing is I pulled out the monitoring tray and there was drawn comb and nectar on the bottom. The hive stands are for sided wooden boxes on end, so it would make the perfect place for a second colony to live. Curious, more later...
As a reference, I put football sized swarms on three frames. I offer some drawn comb. I do my best not to offer swarms honey and pollen unless I absolutely have to, not to say that you can't spread disease from sharing just drawn comb. I'm sure there are pathogens bees can pick-up from sharing any part of the hive that is sanitized by heat. I know in the last post I was going on and on about the "goodies" I offered the storm swarm but sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures. The two extra frames in the above picture are plastic foundation being used as follower boards. Not only is the hive body beat-up, but I'm needing followers too. Hey! It's all I had around alright?..
I cut and removed the entire limb the swarm was hanging on and lowered them in a 5 gallon bucket perfed with 1/16 holes. I easily slid the entire colony and the olive branches out of the bucket into the hive.
I added an empty deep on top of the bees giving them the space and privacy to get started on their wax production.
About 7 hours later the bees shifted to the far right side of the hive -- most likely the side the queen decided to go towards. Tomorrow I'll go in and gently move the bees to the center. So much for my theory that bees will automatically jump on drawn comb.
In this "trap out" we are trying to re-route the bees from coming around the post. Their hive is behind the pole occupying the space between two interior walls. The owner, Tom, has made a plywood cover that will act as a hallway for the bees to go an extra 4' towards a hole closer to the end of the porch.
Cleaning out the back of my truck meant taking my bike out. Check out my rack...
More later on our zero emission honey bee tree removal last week.
Check out this salamander we caught by Nate's bees. Gorgeous but slimy, Davis loved it.
This bee-blog thing is time consuming. Looking back I haven't gotten much done 'round here since the 8th, feels like just yesterday. What I'm going to try <--- key word try --- to do is up load some of the images I take out there while I'm rustling bees and make comments on them rather than doing longer posts less frequently. Certain times of the year it gets really difficult to manage the blog and bees because I'm either working with bees or talking about them all day -- the last thing I want to do at night is come home and type about them too! This time of year I am in 5-10 colonies a day checking them for brood and stores before sending them into winter. I'm talking going deep here, not just a pop of the lid for a quick looky loo. On my mother colonies I'm not overly concerned, they have shown me over time that they are decent producers of both honey and brood. It's the new colonies I have introduced into my apiaries I want to check-up on. Enough excuses....
Hop in, let's see how this rolls:
For the past month or two I have wanted to get a business card. It's always a little funny when people ask for a card and I don't have anything with my contact info. You guys know where to get me, right here at the blog, but not everyone is so bee savvy. For now I didn't want too get crazy - only the basics - my splitty and the bees... They should be ready in 7-10 working days. Lemme know and I'll hook you up with one fresh of the press.
It's a desert out there in the rural landscape, look at how hungry they are... That 1:1 hadn't hit the deck for a second before they were all up on it. Be careful, not only are some of my less foraging bees in a tight place right now but desperate x's call for desperate measures, robbing is rampant! Make sure you have all the gear needed on hand before you start working your bees but also keep the cover on them while you're not in the hive. Move quickly but efficiently and for the love of god don't leave any honey laying around.
I ended up feeding some of my bees - not my ideal scenario but what's one to do when there's follower to follower brood and no nectar or honey? I guess I could have thrown them a couple frames of the sticky icky from another colony but that's not the safest option either. You tell me. At least I'm brewing them up the Rudy Steiner, nothing is finer recipe... 1:1 sugar - water, whole chamomile (I was using just bags, but have since stepped it up thanks to Clay) and a pinch of salt. Not sure if it was Steiner or Gunther Hauk that said to also add Comfrey. Dunno about that but I have added some lavender blossoms in the feeder when I have them. Remember to ALWAYS reduce the entrance when feeding. I leave a very small opening at the far opposite side to discourage robbing. Actually, this image shows an external feeder but really if you have to feed your bees I'd use a method from inside the hive like a top or frame feeder. This particular feeder is a custom design made by a student of mine that has a long straw that goes down into the brood chamber. It's an experiment... Feed your bees inside the hive!
Working the bees at Billy G's. Take note of my VW head badge... I met a cat named Don in Napa that wrenches v-dubs. He did me a fat solid by not only putting my badge on but installing seat belts, and adjusted my valves. We talked about doing a lot more to my car so stay tuned... If you need aircooled assistance you should call Don's VW Repair 707.363.4779, he's the Volkswagon shiz-nit!
Working Roger's bees and making an Andy Goldsworthy-inspired entrance reducer. Don had just done the work on my truck the night before so I emptied it and forgot to bring proper reducers. The bees were a bit pissy so I decided to wear my gown. Sadly I just threw it in the bed when I drove off and It must have blown out in transit. So if you happen to come across a Dadant veil with the Napa Valley Bee Company logo on the back - it's mine..
Anytime is a great time when you're hangin' round Arnie but the ultimate bee bliss is working the girls at his place. Michael and I took our beekeeping - bee garden class that is normally held at the Connolly Ranch out to the Bunter's for a little bee fun and yum-yums.
I went through my freezer this weekend and found a bunch of pollen I had forgotten about that I stashed away over the summer. The problem is that when you freeze wax it makes it really brittle and because of my lack of freezer finesse a lot of the frames that didn't have that plastic foundation broke apart. Not the end of the world, you can rubberband it back into a frame but why not have a little fun while your at it?
This one was too obvious.. I know, I know, how cliche but what am I meant to do? The shape presented itself and I couldn't deny. I hope the bees don't think it's as corny as I do. I wouldn't eat pollen out of heart shaped comb based on principle.
Once I was doing a hive removal where the bees built around all these twigs in a building. It was truly one of the coolest things I had seen bee do in a long time. I decided to try and recreate that while also securing some loose comb by harpooning the pieces together with sticks from around my yard.
I even put an acorn in it, corny.....! Can't wait to see what the bees do with these wax constructions. I don't suspect much will get done on them until next spring as I'm not seeing a lot of wax production this late in the year. I was thinking I may incorporate them into my over-wintering protocol in the upper box, so as the cluster moves up through winter they will run into some extra pollen treats along the way. Yum!
I’ve found the perfect beekeeper’s vehicle. It took me a while, but I finally made the commitment a couple months ago I bought a 1961 split window Volkswagen Single Cab. Like my cell phone, garlic press, and MacBook, I find myself asking myself how I ever got by w/o it. It looks cool, has fabulous storage space, fold-down sides that create a flatbed, and gets decent gas mileage. According to this website I found on-line (www.volksdoublecab.com) about Volkswagen Double Cabs, the larger more spacious crew cab to my car, the VW bus was invented by this cat Ben Pon in 1949.
I wasn’t there, but it’s said that he wanted a bug style car that was more commercial. Many of the components for this new “box on wheels” vehicle, including the engine, transmission, and running gear were borrowed directly from the Beetle. The new commercial vehicle, released in 1950 was called a VW bus, Type 2, or Transporter. These transporters were designed as simple work vehicles and were a hit for new businesses starting up after WWII. The earliest Transporters were so basic that they didn’t even have a rear window or bumpers. It took two years, but in 1952, Volkswagen introduced their first truck version of the VW bus. This truck version was called the Single Cab. The intended use for the VW Single Cab was for farm workers, beekeepers, single speed mountain bikers, and construction companies. The unique fold down gates [sides] of the bed allowed the VW Single Cab to carry objects larger than itself and made the truck versatile in many situations. Imagine being able to drop the sides and load-up 15 bee hives with ease. In 1958, VW took the production of the Double Cab in house and started making the vehicles at their own facilities. In 1958, the Double Cab sold for about $1800. That was about $300 more than for the Single Cab. I can’t say for sure what made me want a VW pick-up but once I spent a little time researching the vehicle and eventually saw one in person I knew it would be my perfect bee-mobile. Originally I thought I wanted the Double Cab and had even planned to fly up to Spokane WA to buy one from a guy named Matt Angelini.
Only by absolute luck did I stumble upon my Single Cab in Sebastopol. On the great advice of Joel at Joel & Ron's Harmony Garage in Cotatti I really took the time to look at two things. One was although the Double Cab had more room for passengers it created far less room in the bed of the truck for hauling bees and equipment. Secondly, why would I go nearly 1000 miles away, feeling a sense of obligation to buy the vehicle that I might not otherwise. He advised me to find one locally, or at least in a 50 mile radius. At the time I thought he was out of his VW tree cause not only were there slim pickins’ for this type of vehicle in the area but the specimens I saw were a fortune. TheSamba.com has some of the most beautiful examples of the car known to man but unfortunately I didn’t’ have suitcases of honey money to throw at the project. At one point I spoke with Jason Grace at Umpqua Bank about a business loan to float my VW dream. Luckily I didn’t need to take a loan, I met Mark Ashley, a vintage clothing dealer in Sebastopol. Mark had his 61 single listed on Ebay and it was in my own backyard. I had only seen a few singles in person at that point and most of them looked like 50 year old rusty work trucks.
Here are some visuals:
This is the car as I first saw it. Notice the beehives in the back, me sizing up the bed.
An image Meg made of Davis and I shortly after I first arrived home with the truck.
Check out Mark's initials on the inverted front badge. I have since taken it off and have been unable to get it back on correctly.
New 56 black on yellow plates. I had Art at Napa Valley Glass cut me a piece of plex to cover the 1961 registration sticker. The guy at DMV told me it would get stolen otherwise. Apparently getting old plates reissued is murderous. Mark had it all pretty well worked out for me when I bought the plates. They were two hundie extra but will substantially increase the value of the car.
Out at the College Avenue Apiary.
Loading up at Lyle's.