Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Panorama of prehistory

Foree section of the Sheeprock unit.
The red and gold layer on top of the green occurred from an eruption 28.7 million years ago from a volcano over 80 miles away. It is up to 150 feet thick in some areas. Each of the light colored ledges below are ash or tuft, from individual eruptions. These can be dated with great accuracy, as they contain the mineral sanidine. Sanidine crystals contain a radioactive isotope of potassium. (K) which is formed as the lava cools. As time passes, it decays into argon (Ar) which becomes trapped in the crystals. As the decay rate of the unstable element is known and is constant & measurable, the age of the rock can be determined. 

 There are over sixty layers of basalt lava flows in the unit, some as deep as 52 feet.

 This is a composite of several photos. Although it's reduced in resolution here, it's still best viewed by clicking on it. The formation in the first photo is found right of center in the panorama below.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Eastern Oregon trip

We tried to take the little Boler camper on the trip to the John Day area, but had to turn around in Salem as the truck kept cutting out. I should not have filled up with biodiesel mix last month. So we had to put Daisy in the boarding kennel and take the car. I think we paid more for her room than ours at the two places we stayed at.
These are best viewed full size & that still isn't big enough, but this blog is free so I can't complain.













Sunday, June 21, 2015

Kestrel banding for Father's day!!

When we painted and fixed up the exterior of the old farm house, we closed up the hole in the wall (no doubt a gift from a flicker), that the kestrels have been using to nest in. I put up a box on a nearby tree and they decided that it was a good enough substitute. (We figured one hive of bees in the walls was enough without adding birds).
My old friend from Bend Jim Anderson and his wife Sue dropped by unexpectedly yesterday. After visiting the bee hives, I mentioned that the Kestrels by the house had babies, he just happened to have a set of #3B bands in his truck. What are the chances of that happening?
Sue did the honors & passed them down one at a time. After Jim banded them, we carried them back up to the box.




One actually closed his eyes and took a short nap on his back.


There were five of the little cuties.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Honey bees in the walls & hives and FLIR

A good friend lent me his FLIR camera. They are pretty cool. The lighter colors are the hottest.
These were all taken in the daytime.
The feral hive in the wall on the second floor to the right of the window. There have been bees there as long as I can remember. 

The first cutout hived from the horse barn on the right, Three deeps and a western. and a hive from a swarm on the left.

An overwintered hive three deeps of bees and three supers on top.

A feral hive behind some board & batten in my barn. I may hive them and keep that spot for a swarm trap, as it always has bees.

This was the third hive we cut out from the horse barn. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

more bees

We cut this hive out about 4 weeks ago & I left a little comb thinking maybe another swarm would move in. After all, the horses that used to use this barn are long gone.  The owner said the hive had been there last year.


Lots of drones, lots of mites, but tons of really friendly bees.


Judging by the age of the brood, the new swarm moved in a couple of weeks later. Not as big or populated as the previous tenants, but no mites that I could see, and the same dark friendly bees and enough to fill a deep box. Unlike the previous hive which had very little honey stores, the blackberries are now in bloom and this hive had plenty of honey. Everything got sticky. 


  This is the next stall over. Another swarm moved in here about the same time as the other one.
The Bushkill bee vac
 sucks them right into a hive  The first hive filled three deeps, two of bees and foundation & one deep of brood, the other two just one and a western of comb each. It works really well. After you remove the vac assembly, you set the banded brood box on top, pull a divider out, and the nurse bees move up to the brood. A screen on top keeps them cool for the ride home.

 Learning from my mistakes, this time I added rubber bands to one side of the frames using small frame nails. It made it much easier and faster to add bands only to one side with the cut out comb laying in the frame and it was a lot easier on the brood as well. The new comb is pretty fragile. We got a box full of eggs, brood, pollen, and honey banded up. When I got them home, I reversed the boxes on a hive bottom & added a top


 Most of the bees in front have already been removed, there are plenty more between the next layers of comb..

By the time I worked my way up to the top, I still hadn't seen the queen. Then my wife saw her. She hid in the crack in the corner. We chased her from one side of the wall to the other back and forth  until I caught her.
                                      

 There was some interesting pollen here. At least I think it is pollen. It looks like mud. (edit: probably blackberry pollen)

The owner has another hive in the ceiling of a small storage shed. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Our first Honey beecut out.


They were behind two sheets of plywood in an old unused horse stall with a John Deere backhoe in the way.
As cutouts go, I guess this was pretty easy. I'm not sure if I would want to do a hard one. It took a little over 5 hours total. 
Started late around 3pm, but it all worked out well.  Only a couple of bees flying when we left just before dark. We got most all of them.
Found the queen behind a comb in the upper section!! I left the upper piece of plywood on until the lower part was cleaned up.
You notice how few bees were on me. They were very tame.   I only smoked them a little at the start & vacuumed the guard bees first.

They are very small bees and there are a lot of them!
We got ten frames of brood banded, but they had very little honey put up but the blackberries will be blooming very soon. I'll give them something to get by on until then.

As usual, click on one for a larger slide show




Lots of drone brood












Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shining geranium

Shining geranium (Geranium lucidum), an invasive species. A fully open flower, and I think too much movement caused degradation in the field-stack of 4 shots hand-held, slightly cropped to remove artifacts on the edge of the frame.
ISO-280, 1/250 at f/16, 1:1

Click for detail


Flowers maybe 3/8" across when open