Green Orchid Bee

When we are working with our beehives in the backyard, we sometimes have a pretty visitor – the green orchid bee.  This is mainly a solitary bee and the females gather pollen and propolis (plant resin) for nest building.  We see this behavior of gathering propolis firsthand when they come and steal from an open beehive.  To help, I usually gather excess propolis and place it on top of a hive just for the orchid bees to gather and make their nest.

Here are a few photos of a female gathering propolis and placing it in her pollen baskets on her hind legs.

Green-Orchid-Bee-4

Plenty of propolis in her pollen baskets.

Green-Orchid-Bee-3

She flies up and places propolis she has collected onto her hind legs.

Green-Orchid-Bee-2

They have strong mandibles to gather resin.

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Placing propolis on her hind leg.

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Apiary Industry in Florida

Heartland Magazine covers agricultural news, events and people in the South Central Florida region. Their October issue focused on the beekeeping industry in Florida and included several informative articles.

I was lucky enough to be interviewed for one article and to have a few of my photos featured, including the cover! I invite you to browse through the magazine and check out the articles from fellow beekeepers.

Heartland Cover

TS Article

Link: http://issuu.com/heartlandmagazine/docs/oct13

Friends of the Hive – Part 2

A few months ago I wrote a post about some critters that like to hide in or around our beehives.  Well here are a few more to add to the list.

Southern Black Racer

Southern Black Racer

The Southern Black Racer is a common snake here in the Southeast.  Adult racers are usually 24–55 inches (0.6 – 1.4 m) long.  They are active during the day when it is warm and will eat lizards, frogs, insects and rodents. They are not venomous, but they can bite if they are cornered or feel threatened.

This one was relaxing on top of an empty pallet next to a few of our hives.

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Adult – Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Nymphs - Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Nymphs – Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

The Eastern Lubber Grasshopper is a very colorful and large grasshopper, reaching almost 3 inches (8 cm) in size.  It is native to the southeastern and south central US.  The young nymphs are black with bright yellow or orange stripes and as they grow they change color. They feed mainly on shrubs and grasses.

You can see how large the adult is compared to a few bees in the background. It does not bother the bees at all, it was just hanging out in the sun.

Pink-striped Oakworm Caterpillar

Pink-striped Oakworm Caterpillar

We keep some of our beehives under the shade of a few oak trees.  I noticed what looked like caterpillar droppings on top of our hives and shortly after this caterpillar dropped down from the tree.  The Pink-striped Oakworm caterpillar turns into a colorful pink/orange moth.  And guess what they eat?  Yes, you got it – oak tree leaves.

Friends of the Hive

As a beekeeper you know that sometimes you’ll find a surprise inside your hive. I’m not talking about bees, but other small creatures that take up residence inside a beehive since it is a dry, warm place. We always open our hives with caution because these critters tend to hang out under the lid of the hive.

Here are a few of the critters we have seen:

Regal Jumping Spider

Regal Jumping Spider

These spiders are the largest jumping spider in eastern North America and commonly found in Florida. This particular spider pictured above is an adult female in orange coloring. They are harmless to humans. We tend to find them in the inside corners of the lids.

Tree Frog

Squirrel Tree Frog

This frog was very cute looking at me. With the humid tropical conditions here in Florida, we find these little guys all the time under the edge of the hive lids. They are good to have around because they will eat moths.

Brown Anole

Carolina Anole

Lizards are everywhere here in Florida. We have lots of Carolina Anoles and Brown Anoles. This lizard pictured above can change color from brown to green. They are also good to have around because they will eat moths and small insects. Again, we usually find them under the edge of the lid.

Florida Wood Cockroach

Florida Woods Cockroach (aka Palmetto Bug)

Now it wouldn’t be Florida without cockroaches! Yes, I hate them, but they are here to stay. They like damp and warm environments. This particular roach picture above is an adult female. The females have a “V” notch at the end of their body. We tend to find these inside the hive between the lid and inner cover.

Florida Bark Scorpion

Florida Bark Scorpion

Finally, for the first time ever I spotted a scorpion! It was crawling on the wooden pallet our hives sit on and it hid under the beehive before I could get a picture, but I did get a good look at it. It was a Florida Bark Scorpion. Yes, they do look scary, even the small ones. This scorpion can sting, but is not fatal to humans.

Do you have any creatures that like to hang out in your beehives? I’d love to hear about them.

Painting hives

So my husband and I spent some time this weekend assembling and painting new hive bodies.  We buy our hive bodies unpainted and unassembled to keep costs down.  We use 9 5/8″ deep bodies for the brood chambers and 6 5/8″ shallow supers for honey.

Assembled and ready for paint.

Assembled and ready for paint.

Waiting-to-be-painted-hives

More hive bodies waiting for paint.

Instead of using plain white, I like to add a little color to my hives.  I’m using Glidden exterior water-based paint in a satin finish, color called Pistachio Ice Cream.  White or light pastel colors are best so that the hives don’t get too hot sitting in the sun.

All done!

All done for now.  More hives are on the way.

Beekeeping Runs in the Family

This is a picture of my husband’s grandfather, John, in his apiary in Serres, Greece sometime during the 1950’s.  My husband knew his grandfather had bees at some point in his life, but he had never seen a picture until very recently when his brother found this.  Who knew beekeeping ran in the family!

Yanni's-grandfather

Honey scrub

I came across this honey scrub in one of my beekeeping magazines and thought what a great holiday gift idea this would be.

Honey Scrub

2/3 cup honey
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp almond oil
1/2 tsp rosemary essential oil
1/2 tsp lavender essential oil
2 tbsp dried lavender
1 tbsp dried rosemary

Mix almond oil, sugar and honey together.  Add essential oils and mix well, then add in the dried herbs and mix.

If you don’t like lavender or rosemary, don’t worry, you can substitute with which ever oils and herbs you like the best.  The idea is to use scents that are relaxing and soothing.

Spoon mixture into an airtight glass jar and decorate with ribbons.