Gridlessness Explained

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Hey All, it seems we finally have a video that explains a few things.  Our friends at Exploring Alternatives made a beautiful video that we happen to be in, Gridlessness Explained:

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How to catch a bee swarm: Act Swift

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Bees can be insanely awesome, and it’s never more evident than when they swarm. We had an epic week of chasing swarming bees, its that time of year… swarmy.  How to catch a bee swarm?  You gotta act Swift:

Why do bees swarm?

Bees swarm when the colony is growing very quickly and the queen feels that it’s time to franchise.  The queen takes about half of the worker bees (can be 10,000 or more) and leaves to find an appropriate spot to build a new hive.  The worker bees that are left behind raise a new queen and continue life as normal.

how to catch a bee swarm

Surprising fact:  Bees can look crazy when they swarm but they are actually super docile and rarely act aggressively (this is because they stuff themselves with honey for the long flight to their new hive location and are a little honey drunk).

 

How to recognize a swarm:

As a beekeeper there are early signs of an imminent swarm, such as the aptly named swarm cell (the workers create swarm cells to raise a new queen when they feel the old queen is going to leave in the near future).  For the rest of us the first sign of a swarm is a growing mass of bees emerging from a hive such as the picture below:

how to catch a bee swarm

Once out of the hive the bees can be seen and heard flying in a tight pattern above the old hive.  They will usually start to congregate on a tree brach with the queen at the centre (apparently waiting until everyone shows up).

How to catch a bee swarm: 

This is where you need to act fast.  The bees may only stay in a clump like this for a couple minutes and somehow you need to get it contained in a bucket or box.  Raise the container up from below the clump and shake the branch until all the bees fall off.  The bees will begin to take flight so put a lid on it and get it to an empty bee box as soon as possible.  Gently dump the bees in a new box with frames, place the cover on it but do not seal it up.  If you successfully captured the queen she should find the new box a suitable home and start to settle in.

how to catch a bee swarm

Not Swift enough to catch the swarm?  They’re gone!  Maybe a neighbouring beekeeper will catch them, how nice of you to share.

Did you catch Sarah’s other bee clinics?  Check them out here:

Spring bee checkup (featuring Drake)

Bee Reproduction (with Dave the bee magnet)

Tired of all the words?  Just watch the videos on our Gridlessness youtube channel.

Now you know how to catch a bee swarm.  Appreciate Sarah the master Beekeeper and her hapless beeminion?  Like it, share it and subscribe to it.  Hate bees and hope the planet dies?  Share this post with your FB friends to let them know what the enemy looks like!

Bee food, yummy:

how to catch a bee swarm

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Bee Reproduction: A lesson from the Drones

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Sarah – Some of my bee colonies are starting to get quite large so I decided to split them and hopefully avoid a swarm. Swarming happens when the bee colony grows quickly and feels cramped or overly contained; The queen takes off with half of the colony and leaves the hive for somewhere new. It’s time to manage our bee reproduction.

Try to identify the least helpful helper in this video:

Dave references a few things that he “learned”, let me mention them here just to make sure that you weren’t mislead. I’ll also give the ‘Dave reference’ so you know what I’m talking about.

Burr comb: (Dave reference = bird comb)

Bee Reproduction

Burr comb is wax comb that the bees draw on the bottom, top or edges of the frames. It doesn’t mean anything is going wrong, it just means that you as the beekeeper have more of a mess to clean up. It doesn’t work very well if the bees try to store honey or raise brood in the burr comb as it breaks apart when the frames are removed..

Swarm cells: (Dave actually got this one down pat)

Swarm cells are special cells that the colony makes when they are thinking about swarming. The swarm cells they make are to raise a new queen in; when the new queen is just about ready to hatch, half the hive population and the old queen leave for a ‘better’ home.

Drone cells: (Dave reference = drone frames)

Bee Reproduction

Drone cells are the cells that drones are raised in. The drone cells have to be larger than worker cells because the drones (the only males of the hive) are the biggest bees around. A drone cell can be recognized by the raised cap (it looks like a bump on the top of the cell) where as a worker bee cell is capped flat.

Drawn comb: (Dave reference = drawing comb)

Drawn comb is fully formed wax comb in the typical hexagon shapes that the bees have produced.  When a new frame is introduced to a hive it has a mostly flat base and requires that the bees draw the comb before it can be used to raise brood or store honey or pollen.

Bee Reproduction

Tell us what you thought of Bee Reproduction. Try out one of the fancy new “feelings”, or leave us a comment. Even better, subscribe, for weekly offgrid adventures, emailed right to your doorstep.

Have you seen Spring bee checkup?  You should check it out, my apologize for the dance.

Think we should just get out of the freakin’ way and let the girl tend her bees? Share this post with all your FB friends to show them how unhelpful we are, that’ll teach us!

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Spring Bee Checkup: Hotline Sting

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Sarah: My two bee colonies made it through winter and are in fine shape.  To increase my farm buzz, I just invested in another 4 colonies.  It’s clearly time for a Spring Bee Checkup.

Sarah’s spring bee checkup clinic for newbees, check it out here:

I was excited that my two hives survived the winter and even more excited to
get another four colonies from my cousin Andrew. Today was a beautiful day so I
decided to get outside and check on my girls. I was doing a quick check to see how
the queens were doing and if they were still laying eggs, they usually are but it is
always nice to make sure. It must be nice for them to have a beekeeper; its probably
like us knowing we have the security of a doctor in case anything goes wrong.

Spring Bee Checkup

The Queen

The queen is the mother of all the bees in a colony; she can be many different colours
and shading patterns. You can find her on the image below, she’s the big one with the large light coloured abdomen.  Her job is to lay eggs, causing the hive population to grow and hopefully to skyrocket.  She maintains order and security in the colony. Without a queen the colony will crash … the population of bees would immediately start to go down. Sometimes the worker bees start to lay unfertilized eggs which will only hatch into Drones. Drones do nothing but eat honey and fertilize other queens. Essentially the colony descends into chaos, the queen is a very important part of the hive.

Spring Bee Checkup

The Workers

The worker bee is the most common and the hardest working bee in the colony, all
workers are female. When a worker is first born she will start doing simple tasks
around the brood-nest such as feeding young eggs and larvae. As she gets older she
will start doing more complex tasks such as foraging, cleaning out cells for the queen
to lay eggs in and removing debris from the hive. There are many more tasks for a
worker that I haven’t mentioned yet. There is scouting, water collecting, taking out
dead brood and bees, and attending the queen.

Spring Bee Checkup

The Drones

The drones are the only male members of the hive. They don’t contribute to their
own hive in any way; they eat honey and pollen and go mate with foreign queens.
Drones are essential for bee populations in an area but only to other colonies; its all
for the greater good of the bee world.

Everything looked great today, the queens have been active laying eggs, the workers are bringing in a fair bit of pollen and even some nectar (which is very early this year).  They are even rearing drones which is a sign that the colony feels that plentiful feed is just around the corner.

Tell us what you thought of Spring Bee Checkup. Try out one of the fancy new “feelings”, or leave us a comment. Even better, subscribe, for weekly offgrid adventures, emailed right to your doorstep.

Don’t like this post?  Hate the video?  Share it with all your friend to show them how lame it is, that’ll teach us!

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Mid Winter Syrup Snack – Bee Keeping

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Sarah – It finally got above -10 C the other day.  Because of the pleasant weather I decided to check on the bees.  As I opened the hive the smells flooded out and brought me back to the thrill of honey season.  The scent of wax, honey, propolis, and the hive’s own unique pheromones came out to serenade me.  Providing a snack of syrup on the milder days will give the old girls a better chance of surviving the winter.

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A little iNTRODUCTION – Life in the Woods

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We’ve been waiting anxiously to share a few stories with you.  Waiting for a bit of an introduction.  Waiting for the right time to share our life in the woods with you.

GRIDLESSNESS
[grid-les-nes]
noun
1) the quality or state of being gridless
example
Jeff and the girls have built a life in the woods, off grid, and with less rules.  They have an aura of gridlessness about them

We’ve been fairly intentional about avoiding commitments to the typical stuff.  We didn’t really like the mortgage or the costs associated with a normal house.  We didn’t like the school and extracurricular schedule, it didn’t exactly bring us all together.  We figure that the world could use a few kids from outside the box.  And so, we have transitioned to a little off grid house in the woods.

We didn’t go Survivor Man or anything, and we’re not luddites.  We just opted for a nice piece of cheap land that we could build on, live on and play on.  We dumped the mortgage, utility bills and the “program”.  We heat with wood, cook with wood, collect rainwater, utilize a grey-water system and the most awesome composting toilet “system” ever.  We built our house for around 20k.  Its amazing how cheap things can be if they don’t need to be 100% automatic.

With a lot more free time we can collect our food the long way; by hunting and fishing, gathering, gardening and beekeeping.  The pursuit of food is a central element to our life in the woods.  We build all sorts of things out of all sorts of things; living roof houses, straw bale shops, culvert cold rooms and tree houses.

The kids are a part of everything we do.  They’re not un-schooled, but close to it.  They are learning life first hand and overcoming new challenges every day.

Thanks for checking out our Life in the Woods.

See if you can spot the bacon in this video!

 

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