Saturday, June 15, 2013

Brian and Greg's Excellent Adventure Part II

After working the hives by the experimental farm we took a leisurely drive a few kilometers east towards Cinnamon Ridge and Brian's other bee yard. The area surrounding this bee yard is frequented by bears, so the electric fence system is more comprehensive and robust. The hives are penned in by an eight foot wire fence. This fence has an outer electrified standoff comprised of six lower wires, plus two wires at the top of the eight foot inner fence. The top wires are set to overhang outwards, in the same fashion as barbed wire commercial fencing. If the bear manages to pass over the lower wires it is in for a bit of a shock at the top.
Lower fence
Upper fence
The charged wires in the upper fence are difficult to see due to the lighting in the above photograph, but are attached to the lateral wood posts, perpendicularly straddling the top of the fence. The fence charger is powered by a battery replenished by solar panels.
Charger and battery supply
Solar panels
As I toured the inside of the yard a bee gave me a not-to-gentle reminder on the back of my neck to suggest I walk behind the hives rather than in front. I untangled a second bee from my hair, and discovered why experienced beekeepers often wear a hat even if they are not suited up.

I scooped up some silage before we left, and Brian gave me a couple of discarded deep supers to place my hive boxes on during examinations.
Silage and old super
The next stop on our tour was an abandoned building with a small hive occupying a space in the wall. The hive was gaining access where the gas line entered the house. Dead bees were present in the basement window sill. Please excuse the noisy train in this 17 second video.

 Did you notice the claw marks on the house siding? Seems like a bear payed the hive a visit. Imagine if the bear had dislodged the gas line; we could have enjoyed braised venison with a wild-honey glaze.

The adventure now took us onwards towards the last stop on our tour, with a pause along the way to admire a herd of California Big Horn Sheep on the hill above the road. My iPhone is obviously not quite up to the task of long range photography.
California Big Horn Sheep

We arrived at our last stop, Thompson Rivers University, to check on the hives managed by the Kamloops Bee Club on behalf of the Culinary Arts Program at the university. The hives were originally placed on the roof of the Culinary Arts building, but were moved to another area of the campus that allowed for better access and easier movement of equipment.

The new TRU bee yard is in a grassy field next to a small garden area. There is an adjacent shed for equipment storage. The bee yard is protected by an electric fence of approximately four feet in height, with alternating hot and cold wires, contrasting with the all-hot and chicken wire ground configuration more commonly employed in bee yards around the Kamloops area. The hives are set above the ground on cinder blocks and boards and allow room to work the hives from all sides. The greater area is fenced and accessed through a locked gate on the access road.
TRU bee yard
Part of the hive inspection included adjusting for brood found in a honey super on a previous visit; the box was isolated with a queen excluder and on this visit we checked above and below it to locate the queen. Brian found the queen above the excluder and gently evicted her from her penthouse suite and relocated her to a more suitable ground floor condo.
Brood in honey frame

Closer look

Another queen-right hive that recently underwent amalgamation with a queen-less hive was investigated and found to be well combined, although the bees hadn't done a complete job of removing all the newspaper set between the boxes.
Brian checking combined hive

Camouflage painted hive to prevent honey raids from nearby Rocky Mountain Ranger armory
What an afternoon! Working hives by the experimental farm; adding a queen to my hive; touring Brian's Cinnamon Ridge bee yard; collecting silage and old boxes; checking a hive in an abandoned building; and examining the hives at TRU, with Big Horn Sheep thrown in for good measure. Well, maybe not thrown in, the sheep do weigh almost as much as a deep full of honey!


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