Monday, August 22, 2011

Mobile Grafting Lab

The Saturday before last, my wife and I were at a House Warming party. We had to duck out between appetizers and dinner to visit the Kingston apiary for an evening graft. We had previously moved VSH#76 and her colony from Bainbridge Island to Kingston. She really deserves a name. Antoinette seems too fatalistic upon the recollection that she was beheaded by her own countrymen!

We took a bucket of hot water and some towels for atmosphere and headed to Kingston in my dad’s old ’79 Toyota Corolla, which is now known as the Bee-mobile and Mobile Grafting Lab. It’s bee-speckled interior not withstanding, it has served the bee yards well for many years now and has transported millions of bees! With the passenger seat removed, it can easily transport three double-deep-plus-one-western hives, or around 20 nucs or honey supers.

Working quickly with a cheap Chinese grafting tool, we soon had the young larvae grafted into some plastic cell cups and placed in the cell starting colony. 

The lighting was excellent, but I am lucky my wife held out for so long in the very hot and humid interior to take these photos.

The hardest part for me was to avoid dripping sweat into the cups!

Dropping the cell bar frame into the cell starter colony.

This is a kind of poor man’s Cloake board. Instead of sliding the board in or out, I must unstack and restack the boxes in order to move the board. But that is not difficult despite standing on a narrow, rotten board two feet above the ground with bamboo rustling overhead. It still requires a queen excluder so there is no advantage over a Cloake board. I usually spend shop time making more nuc dividers but I will have to make several Cloake boards when the season slows down.

It can often take longer than you expect when working with bees, because every colony has it’s own unique rhythm. Those rhythms change in response to myriad factors so that successful beekeeping is heavily influenced by the ability to predict bee and beekeeper activities with a modicum of success. Still, sometimes an expected hour’s work drags into several hours. That’s beekeeping, but having my wife along to take pictures depends more on my accurate predictions than anything else and I believe she is on strike at the moment… This photo shoot went well and we were back before dinner and dancing!

I mentioned the patience of Honeybee and Beekeeper photographers because good photographs convey so much information very quickly. One of my favorite websites with bee and beekeeper photography is Éric Tourneret’s The Bee Photographer. The website navigation is different than most and the stunning photography shows how incredibly wide ranging the relationship of human to bee can be. There are also many amazing photographs of bee life that you don’t often see, like in-flight queen mating, dueling queens, the emergence of workers and queens, predators of honeybees, etc. Below is a video I found at The Bee Photographer.

No comments:

Post a Comment