Catching swarms, Camping out!

Golden Week 2018 consisted of me camping out, catching swarms and playing with my tello. Overall and great golden week

 

Kicked Out!

Last year around April the owner of the land my Ayuya apiary lives on decided to kick me off her land. What sucks sorry disappoints me the most is the time I lost developing the apiary, money aside I probably lost close to 1,000 hours of work over three years and only got to harvest one hive.

In 2016 I was lucky enough to overwinter six hives which were due to be harvested the early summer of 2017, But because I was kicked out I needed to move them to a new apiary. Sadly three of the hives did not take to the new area, and two were stolen, yes stolen – seriously! – from the new location.

Just before getting kicked off!

CLEANING UP! What a BITCH! The job of cleaning up that is, not the land owner 🙂

Man I am lucky to have a fellow beekeeper friend who has a excavator.

🙁

All complete!

  • Loss of money around JPY400,000 (USD 3,600)
  • Loss of time 1,000 hours
  • Loss of hives 5!
  • Lesson learnt – PRICELESS

Trap hives set, pheromones a fly

Catch a spring swarm generally the only way to increase your Japanese honey bee colonies . Hive splitting, requeening are just something you just really won’t hear Japanese beeks talking about.

For the past four years I have been using the yellow margin orchid which releases 3-Hydroxyoctanoic acid to signal Japanese honey bees.  I honestly have know idea why it does this, or what benefits the orchid gets and getting the orchid to flower when I want it to is always a major headache. With my painkillers running low I have decided to purchase artificial  traps this year and see how they work.

 

Spring is in the air

I think this is the first spring that I have been this ready, ready for the wild Japanese honey bees to swarm.

I have enough hives built for seventy new colonies, seventy… Have I gone crazy? …. Maybe!  I also have enough traps for those seventy and enough places to place the those traps.

Golden week for me is going to be a busy one and I have set a goal of 30 new hives this year.

Now please, nice spring weather please.

Building boxes, boxes, boxes

This year I plan to go big, I let last year slip by and I am not going to let that happen again.

Catching swarms won’t really start until the middle of April, so I right now I am building boxes and weathering them. I still have a hundred odd boxes to make so my time is limited.

 

 

Shed update

Hatada eventually should become my biggest apiary hosting around 100 hives, in the area of the shed hopefully a potential 40 hives so I need to keep tools and hives on hand so I can rock up to the apiaries empty handed and take care of business.

Empty handed? Really? Lazy much? 

I really want to cycle there some weekends and it’s a good 70 km round trip if I  do a loop. Also I never know if I am going to be cycling, motorbiking or driving the Awaji sports car, aka kei-truck.

But the main thing I want to keep up there is a weed-eater. In the photos below you’ll notice some yellow flowers, those flowers are sadly an invasive species are pulling them out has became tiresome, so a little fossil fuel power is needed.

Canada goldenrod

Once this invasive species flowers it marks the end of the honey harvest. Bees, flies and other nectar gathering insects love this plant, probably due to the fact that there are virtually no other flowers around this time and this thing propagates like wildfire and can be seen everywhere. It would be nice if it’s nectar yielded mouthwatering honey but sadly it doesn’t, it just doesn’t.

Hornet Attack!

I wasn’t ready for this! No, I should say I wasn’t ready to see two of my hives covered in the Japanese giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica).

Since spring have seen a few buzzing around but taking zero interest in the hives, Well the giant hornet that is, the yellow hornet (Vespa simillima) has be testing the bees defenses over the summer months but never attacking the hives in the great number.

Armed with a fly swat I attempted to rid the hive from the attacking hornets. Not a brilliant plan, but the only thing I could do. Of course it didn’t work the Hornets turned their attention to me, luckily I was wearing my thick motorbike pants and jacket (I hadn’t planned fight hornets)

After killing about five hornets, yes five. I decided that my “swat and run” strategy was not gonna work and I was probably going to die. (note : giant hornets kill about 40 to 50 people per year in Japan).

Anyway not to tempt fate, I decided to go and buy the best weapon known to the Japanese beekeeper. No, not a flamethrower. A mousetrap, a sticky..  very sticky mousetrap.

Final result : 250 dead hornets, One hive lost. One hive saved but damaged, the hornets chewed through wood to enter the hive.

My first hive.

Received my first hive from a local bee keeper today, The colony is an extremely big one and he also helpled me move it to apiary (well one day) at my friends coffee shop Fuku-cafe in Shitori on Awaji Island.

I have trying do this for the past three years and now I am finally making some baby steps.

Other posts about the Fuku-Cafe apiary